People 'are still itching to switch'

Australia's major banks have improved their customer satisfaction ratings over the past year – but this has not been enough to stop people from switching to different providers.

According to the results of Mozo's People's Choice Awards, one in five Aussies who hold bank accounts with one of the nation's most prominent lenders are looking for a change.

Many customers had become disillusioned with the country's big banks and there were a number of reasons for this.

Some people felt that their bank was failing to pass on interest rate reductions sanctioned by the Reserve Bank of Australia, even though most institutions were posting bumper profits.

A lot of business banking customers were also concerned about a perceived lack of support from their lender.

However, the new survey – which covered 25,000 customer reviews on the Mozo site in the past 12 months – has indicated that the banks are steadily turning things around.

Indeed, the "big four" banks recorded an overall satisfaction score of 7.13 out of ten – a 0.26 per cent improvement on 2011.

Commonwealth Bank had come in for a lot of criticism last year, but it has since recovered and is now Australia's second most popular institution, with a rating of 7.18.

That said, the big four are still lagging way behind mutuals in the customer satisfaction stakes.

Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank was voted Australia's Best Bank with an impressive score of 9.01. Overall, mutuals posted a record-high score of 8.37.

Just ten per cent of the mutual bank customers surveyed said they were looking to switch to a new provider.

Mozo managing director Rohan Gamble believes that interest rates are "make-or-break" for customer satisfaction.

"Now the market overall is more competitive and responding to price pressure from the online players, customers are sending a message to the online banks that they need to up their game again," he remarked.

Thanks to the government's "tick and flick" legislation – which makes it easier for people to switch bank accounts – the power is now firmly in Aussies' hands and it will be interesting to see how many households change their financial services provider in the near future.

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