Only 27 percent of Western Europeans believe their bank acts in their best interest, according to Forrester Research, Inc.¿s (Nasdaq: FORR) latest customer advocacy scorecard of European retail banks. Based on a survey of more than 10,300 consumers, the evaluation of 37 leading banks shows that national differences persist between the countries surveyed, with German and Dutch banks in a tie at the top of the list and Italian banks receiving on average the lowest customer advocacy scores.

Customer advocacy is the perception on the part of consumers that a firm does what¿s best for its customers, not just the firm¿s own bottom line. According to the report, nearly 70 percent of customers who view their main bank as a customer advocate would consider it for their next financial purchase, compared with only half of customers who do not believe their main bank to be a customer advocate. In this year¿s survey, the only bank in Europe seen as a customer advocate by more than half its customers is Nationwide Building Society in the UK. Also rated high by their customers on customer advocacy are Sparda-Banken (DE), Rabobank (NL), Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken (DE), and Société Générale (FR).

Highlights from the Forrester report:

  • German and Dutch banks tie for lead. Thirty-five percent of German consumers and thirty-five percent of Dutch consumers believe that their bank acts in their customers¿ best interest, the highest ratings among the countries surveyed.
  • Dutch banks have improved their scores. The average score of Dutch banks rose from 29 percent in 2006 to 35 percent this year ¿ the biggest increase in Europe. All three of the big Dutch banks, Rabobank, Postbank, and ABN AMRO, improved their customer advocacy scores.
  • French banks have lost ground. French customers gave their banks a score of only 27 percent this year, compared with 31 percent last year. However, despite the general fall among French banks, Société Générale substantially improved its customer advocacy score.
  • UK banks have some of the poorest relationships in Europe. Although Nationwide Building Society scored at the top of the list, overall only 22 percent of UK customers believe their main bank does what¿s best for them. Other UK banks achieved poor customer advocacy scores with less than 15% of customers viewing them as customer advocates.
  • Italian banks are at the bottom. Only 15% of Italians consider their main bank to be a customer advocate.

¿As a key driver of customers¿ future purchase intentions, customer advocacy should be a priority for banks that want to increase customer loyalty and earn higher product cross-sales,¿ said Benjamin Ensor, principal analyst at Forrester Research. ¿The top-rated banks have four things in common ¿ they make it easy for customers to deal with them, are transparent about rates and fees, take the customer¿s side when things go wrong, and build trust by communicating openly and honestly with their customers.¿

Improving customer experience is the key theme of this year¿s Forrester Financial Services Forum EMEA being held November 15-16 in Barcelona, Spain. Retail financial services executives will gather to learn how to build and sustain long-term competitive edge for their firms by improving the experience they deliver to customers. Speakers include industry leaders from Bankinter, Citibank, Credit Suisse, Danske Bank, First Direct, Jyske Bank, and Nationwide Building Society. For more information, visit

¿Customer Advocacy 2007: How Consumers Rate European Banks¿ is currently available to Forrester RoleView clients and can also be purchased directly at