By Kristy Dorsey

Royal Bank of Scotland remains stuck at the bottom for personal customer satisfaction in Great Britain, and has slipped to the lowest level yet in its basement position as a provider of business current accounts.

Latest results from Ipsos MORI, which carries out the consumer survey, found just 46 per cent of Royal Bank customers would recommend their personal account provider to friends and family. That put Royal Bank last in a table of 16 headed up by First Direct on 83%, Metro Bank on 82%, and Nationwide on 74%.

Ipsos MORI and BVA BDRC carry out their consumer and small business surveys respectively every six months on behalf of the UK’s watchdog Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA first published the results of these customer satisfaction surveys in August 2018 to provide better-quality information so members of the public can decide which banking provider is best for them.

Royal Bank’s latest personal customer rating matched that of six months ago when it was also ranked last. That was down from a 47% approval rating in February 2019, and a 49% rating when the survey was first published in August 2018.

Looking at business current accounts, just 41% of Royal Bank customers said they would recommend their bank to other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). That last-place finish was the lowest yet scored by Royal Bank, down from 43% six months ago.

Top of the rankings for small business accounts was Handelsbanken on 82%, Metro Bank on 68% and Santander

on 64%.

Under the leadership of new chief executive Alison Rose, Royal Bank announced last week it will switch most of its operations over to the NatWest brand that grew out of National Westminster Bank, which Royal acquired in 2000 and which consistently polls as more popular in customer satisfaction surveys.

While the Royal Bank brand will live on in Scotland, it is hoped the move will help rehabilitate the bank’s image after years of scandals following a £45 billion taxpayer rescue during the 2008 financial crisis. The government remains its biggest shareholder with a 62.4% stake.

Royal Bank admitted its latest branch scores were “disappointing”, but added that it has members of staff focused on the “pain points” for customers, helping to resolve those issues more quickly than before.

The group emphasised its commitment to technology to improve the consumer experience, such as payment key fobs, Google Voice and Cora, its artificial intelligence chatbot.

There has also been investment in its banking platform for businesses.

“We are focused on doing more and doing better in order to provide the best possible service to customers, businesses and communities,” a Royal Bank spokesperson said.

“We’re investing in dedicated teams focused on making targeted improvements for customers in order to address the areas where our service falls short of expectations, such as introducing video banking and technology to help reduce queuing times in branches.”

Asked about specific aspects of their banking experience, personal and business customers gave Royal Bank its highest ratings for its online and mobile service: 70% from consumers (12th place out of 16) and 62% from SMEs (joint 6th out of 14). Its ratings for overdraft services, service in branches for consumers, relationship/account management, and service in branches for businesses ranged from 51% to 38%, all firmly at the foot of the table.

Clydesdale Bank, which ranked joint last with Royal Bank among personal customers when the survey was first published in August 2018, showed some improvement this time around by moving up to 11th for overall service.

Its 65% approval rating for service in branches earned it a spot at 10th out of 14, though its overdraft rating of 48% was a joint-last finish.

For small business service, Clydesdale’s overall rating of 51% put it at seven out of fourteen, up from 13th in the initial survey.

“The fact that providers have to publish this data in branch and on their websites means that there is nowhere to hide – providers should always feel the pressure to climb the league table by improving their services to attract more customers,” said Adam Land, senior director at the CMA.