The shift to digital delivery improved CX scores for banks across the UK, GermanyItalySpain, and France

LONDON, Oct. 1, 2021 — According to Forrester‘s 2021 European Banking Customer Experience Index (CX Index™), the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to banking via digital and hybrid channels — and this shift has improved customer experience (CX) across European banks. Unveiled at CX EMEA, the CX Index rankings reveal that digital channels dominated all three dimensions of CX quality — effectiveness, ease, and emotion — across Europe. Forrester’s European Banking CX Index benchmarks the CX quality of 38 of the largest and most important banking brands in the UK, GermanyItalySpain, and France. It is based on a survey of more than 26,000 European adults.

On average, customers rated the quality of their banking experiences as ‘good’ in the UK; ‘OK’ in GermanyItaly, and Spain; and poor in France. Across Europe, challengers (alternatives to traditional banks) and mutuals delivered better CX than traditional banks and were lauded for delivering strong customer support, digital offerings, or both. Among challengers: Monzo ranked first in Europe and the UK for focusing on financial well-being; First Direct outperformed all other European banks in the customer service driver category; and ING led in Spain for the second year in a row. The average CX quality in France remained ‘poor’ with the exception of Crédit Mutuel, BNP Paribas, and Caisse d’Epargne improving significantly from 2020 to 2021.

The pandemic accelerated the shift toward digital banking, with 17% of French customers accessing their bank accounts on a computer for the first time and 19% of Italians using a banking mobile app for the first time. While customer preferences for using different digital channels varied by country, overall, banks’ investments in digital experiences paid off. Noteworthy highlights about digital experiences include:

  • For effectiveness, apps were effective for everyday tasks, despite lagging experiences in ItalySpain, and France. Seventy-nine percent of UK and 77% of German banking customers found their bank’s mobile app an effective way to bank, in contrast to only 62% of Spanish, 66% of Italian, and 55% of French customers. Websites were ranked as the most effective way to handle complex banking needs, but the quality of experiences varied across Europe: 77% of UK and 79% of German banking customers found that their bank’s website met their needs, compared to only 61% of French, 65% of Italian, and 65% of Spanish customers.
  • For ease of use, mobile apps offered a convenient way to bank for most customers — except in France, where customers found mobile websites easier to use due to limited functionality offered by French banks on their mobile banking apps. In contrast, customers in the UK, ItalySpain, and Germany found mobile apps one of the most convenient channels to use for banking.
  • For emotion, online chat elicited the most positive emotion for European customers. It was used even more during the pandemic, when customers couldn’t go into physical branches. Chatting with a person facilitated human-to-human connection for customers of banks such as Banca Mediolanum. In the UK, phone calls evoked the most positive emotions among banking customers, where banks like First Direct and Monzo focus on providing excellent service over the phone.

“This year’s CX Index rankings clearly indicate that banks across Europe successfully leveraged digital channels to better serve the needs of their customers,” said Forrester VP and Research Director Oliwia Berdak. “Despite the improvements in digital, the average CX quality in France remained ‘poor’. Investments in digital experiences will be helpful in the long run. What’s more, the three dimensions of CX quality — effectiveness, ease, and emotion — are not equally important. Emotion is key to differentiation; that’s why delivering customer experiences that evoke positive emotions, understanding customer needs better, resolving issues quickly, and rewarding customer loyalty should be top priorities for European banks to improve CX.”

Forrester’s CX Index methodology helps CX leaders grow revenue faster, drive higher brand preference, and charge more for their products. It helps brands identify the key drivers of a positive CX for their customers to prioritise efforts. Even a minor improvement to a brand’s customer experience quality can add revenue by reducing customer churn and increasing share of wallet. Additionally, superior CX leads to reduced service costs and lowers the cost of customer acquisition through word of mouth.


  • Download Forrester’s 2021 European Banking CX Index report (client access required).
  • Learn about the Forrester Decisions for Customer Experience service.
  • Check out how to revitalise CX measurement and prioritisation.

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