Forrester surveyed customers of the 38 largest and most important banking brands in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK about the quality of their experiences as a part of our 2021 European Customer Experience Index (CX Index™). As in 2020, mutuals and challengers (banks founded as alternatives to traditional banks) offer the best experiences across Europe. These top-scoring brands deliver on two key areas of banking CX in Europe: digital experiences and customer service and support.

Banks With Strong Digital Experiences Reaped The Rewards Of Increased Demand For Remote Banking

Our CX Index shows that customers across Europe find websites or mobile apps the easiest and most effective ways to bank. Digital banks like Monzo and ING continue to provide leading CX in the countries where they operate. Better technology platforms allow digital banks to provide easy, streamlined digital experiences — although traditional banks such as BBVA and Intesa Sanpaolo are closing the gap.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to banking via digital or human-assisted channels — and this shift has been good for CX. For example, our CX Index shows that the ease and effectiveness of using French mobile banking websites improved during the course of the pandemic. In 2021, 64% of French banking customers found using a mobile website easy, compared with 54% in 2020. And 61% of French banking customers found mobile websites effective at meeting their needs — again, a 10-percentage-point improvement over 2020. Banks like Crédit Mutuel accelerated planned digital innovations, including all-in-one mobile payments using Lyf Pay and digital signatures, to match increased usage of and demand for digital and remote banking. The result: Average CX quality in France increased by a statistically significant 2.4 CX Index points.

Banks With Leading CX Empower Service Representatives To Resolve Problems Quickly

As a part of the European CX Index, we assess the impact of 33 underlying drivers on customers’ overall perceptions of CX quality. The 33 drivers fall into seven broad categories: customer service; respects me as a customer; banking services; website and mobile app; communication; branches; and prices and fees. Of the 33 underlying drivers, whether customer service resolves problems or issues quickly has the greatest impact on a bank’s overall CX in every country except Italy, where it has the second-highest impact (after communicating in plain language).

The pandemic reinforced the importance of service and support as customers’ needs for help and information increased. First direct, which provides the second-best CX in Europe, once again outperformed all other European banks on all five drivers within our customer service driver category, despite struggling during the early stages of the pandemic. While other banks have introduced interactive voice response and chatbots and outsourced their contact centers to slash costs, first direct offers customers the ability to talk to a person 24/7, 365 days a year. Banca Mediolanum, the leader in Italy, differentiates with its network of Family Bankers: certified financial advisors who provide savings and investment advice to their clients and help them meet their financial objectives.

To read more about the trends in the European CX and the keys to providing good banking CX within your country, see The European Banking Customer Experience Index, 2021. Afterward, read How European Banks Can Improve Their Customer Experience to discover how top-scoring financial services brands win at CX to gather ideas on how to improve.