Despite the royal commission, people are currently not as unhappy with banks as many think

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Bank customer satisfaction has slumped since the royal commission into misconduct in the financial services industry got under way, but new research from Roy Morgan reveals that despite claims by politicians to the contrary, general satisfaction remains above long-term trend.

While the monthly satisfaction figure slipped from 82.3% in January, just before hearings before Commissioner Kenneth Hayne got under way, to 78.5% in May – the lowest level in six years – it’s still well above 60% figure from January 2001 (which, ironically, came after the cash-for-comment scandal involving broadcaster Alan Jones being paid to be positive about banks).

The current level is even above the long-term average of 74%, calculated since 2001.

Customer satisfaction levels with banks:

Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan’s industry communications director, Norman Morris, says this year’s fall in the wake of the royal commission is unsurprising.

“Despite the declines, the current levels of satisfaction and advocacy remain above historic levels,” he said.

“Apart from the potential for adverse publicity to impact on bank customers, our modelling shows that many other factors that directly affect them drive bank advocacy and satisfaction levels.

“These include areas such as interest rates, fees and charges, customer experience, reliability, security and product offering.”

Dissatisfaction is relatively low at 6.2% in May, rising from 4.6% in January, and is now at its highest level since April 2012.

Those who feel neutral – neither satisfied or dissatisfied – increased 2.2% to 15.3% in May. Roy Morgan believes that shift is largely the result of a change of mind in previously satisfied customers.

Combined with the negative sentiment, the research firm sees it as a potential threat to customer retention.

The threat increases when it comes to advocacy for a particular bank.

Those who’d recommend their bank slipped dramatically once the royal commission’s revelations emerged, with the “high advocates” – those highly likely to recommend their bank to others dropping from 55.4% in February to 52.2% last month.

While the “low advocates” – those very unlikely to recommend their bank – rose to 12.2% in May, up 2.8% from January, that’s still only the highest since October 2016.

And that disaffection has come at the expense of those who previously didn’t really care, with the “medium advocates’ – those indifferent to recommending their bank – falling from 37% in January to 35.4% last month.

How likely people are to recommend their bank:

Roy Morgan Research

The Roy Morgan survey interviews more than 4,000 people monthly about their views on banks.

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