BrandsEye published the 2020 South African Banking Sentiment Index, revealing how consumers feel about the large retail banks in the country. The index is based on over 2.5 million social media posts about local banks, between September 2019 and August 2020. The sentiments of posts are analysed (Positive or Negative) across 70 topics, and seven broad categories such as reputation, pricing, customer retention and customer service. The net score index is determined by subtracting negative sentiment from positive sentiment.
This year saw new entrants into the marker TymeBank and Discovery Bank, though sentiment around Bank Zero was not factored in as the bank is yet to officially launch. Overall net sentiment have shown that South Africans were overwhelmingly negative about local banks, with only one bank managing to score a positive score overall. Most complaints are around customer service and confusion over coronavirus relief measures implemented by the banks. Below are the responses:
African Bank managed to score a positive sentiment this year.
“In its first year of being included in the index, African Bank achieved the highest net sentiment. It also received almost four times as many purchase enquiries from prospective customers, relative to the industry average. The demand for African Bank’s products centred primarily on loans. More than half of these requests came as a result of the bank’s successful advertising. In particular, loans offering small sums for ‘tiding consumers over during tough times,” said BrandsEye.
Capitec Bank scored the lowest negative sentiment, followed by TymeBank, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Absa, FNB and Discovery Bank.
Capitec Bank is still the most consistent incumbent bank, according to BrandsEye. Despite the negative score in 2020, it remains the incumbent with the highest net sentiment score, driven largely by its affordability. Negative sentiments centred around its new banking app – instances of downtime and other struggles in the digital space – especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic where digital banking became the norm ..
Nedbank saw a 33-point drop in its score. This was due largely to reputational damage done by allegations that pricing of its home loans given to black customers was racist. A court case in February which awarded one customer R2 million rand, brought the allegations into the spotlight.
Despite Nedbank’s drop, Discovery Bank was the lowest scoring bank. “Discovery Bank was the worst performer in the industry. It faced major operational issued more than a year after its launch. Complaints were driven by a combination of low consumer confidence and poor customer service,” said BrandsEye. In one instance Discovery Bank client accounts suddenly reflected a zero balance. Another concern was not needing a CVV number to make online purchases. Customer service was also a concern of customers,“Customers reported having to reach out to multiple contacts at the bank to receive a response, and waiting long periods for help. This led to the bank hanging the worst response rate to social media queries, suggesting it lacks the requisite capacity to serve its customers,” BrandsEye said.
The general negative sentiment is mainly the fault of a poor response to the Covid-19 crisis, especially in terms of relief offered to bank customers. The lack of digital and online support was another main contributing factor. Customers were forced online and banks were pressured to address all queries flooding their social media timelines timeously. According to BrandsEye two trends emerged: