Canada's BEST and WORST Consumer Banking Customer Service Experiences

Canada's BEST and WORST Consumer Banking Customer Service Experiences

Conexus Credit Union provides the Best Consumer Banking Service Experience in Canada

For years, Canadian financial services firms loved to differentiate themselves from the pack using customer service excellence, especially credit unions that desperately needed an angle to differentiate themselves from the big bad banks, as the reason to trust that hard-earned money with them. Then came the adoption of technology through digital innovations, the game changer, which made it easier for the big banks to sell the story as they expanded outside of traditional banking products. That was short lived as the discount brands and credit unions kept pace with some level of innovation. Today, the credit union system may not be the best choice when it comes to digital usage experience, but they are when it comes to offering, and delivering, a better service offering for Canadian consumer banking. #ServiceServiceService

Service, like many other things in life, continues to evolve but the evolution cycle appears to be like a cat chasing its tail. When one isn't efficient enough, introduce another, and so on. The evolution has led to social media interactions, secure messaging, chat services, interactive help centres and artificial intelligent chatbots. Sounds awesome right? We love to think that firms offer more to make it easier for us, but the reality is that the expansion is to ease staffing and costs associated with providing great service and in turn, service levels are at historical lows, and it can't be attributed to COVID. The reality is phone service is probably the best bet for most non-customers if an immediate response is required. Saskatchewan-based Conexus Credit Union continues its industry service dominance when it comes to service for its members by providing good alternatives, decent service hours and an impressive average response time under 5 hours for public site interactions. #ConexusServiceExcellence

The results clearly indicate that the current state of electronic-based customer service in Canadian consumer banking is not designed in the best interest of Canadians. In terms of electronic customer service, the big banks are forcing consumers into interaction spaces that serve the banks' best interest, not the consumer, despite marketing otherwise.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group


COMPLETE 2021 SERVICE EXPERIENCE RANKINGS

Service Experience RankDigital Banking FirmExperience ScoreFull Company Review
1Conexus Credit Union92 %Full Review
2Servus Credit Union68 %Full Review
3Assiniboine Credit Union63 %Full Review
4Alterna Savings49 %Full Review
5Motive Financial45 %Full Review
6Coast Capital Savings42 %Full Review
7National Bank of Canada42 %Full Review
8Simplii Financial40 %Full Review
9Meridian Credit Union38 %Full Review
10Steinbach Credit Union37 %Full Review
11Desjardins36 %Full Review
12ICICI Bank of Canada32 %Full Review
13motusbank31 %Full Review
14ATB Financial31 %Full Review
15Affinity Credit Union30%Full Review
16Envision Financial29 %Full Review
17CIBC29 %Full Review
18Alterna Bank27 %Full Review
19BMO Bank of Montreal23 %Full Review
20TD Canada Trust23 %Full Review
21RBC Royal Bank21 %Full Review
22Tangerine21 %Full Review
23Scotiabank21 %Full Review
24Vancity19 %Full Review
25Blueshore Financial16 %Full Review
26Manulife Bank of Canada14 %Full Review
27Laurentian Bank15 %Full Review
28HSBC Canada12 %Full Review
29PC Financial10 %Full Review
30EQ Bank9 %Full Review
31Pace Credit Union5 %Full Review
32First Calgary Financial32 %Full Review

Go to Key Facts

Go to Lessons Learned

Go to Firm-by-Firm Response Times

Go to The Bottom Line


The BEST and WORST Firms - By CATEGORY

The depth of any Surviscor review translates to an environment of tough marking and firms being required to earn rankings. Ranks are not given to firms by sponsored ghost writers or false marketing pieces and messages. In addition to being tough, Surviscor will also give credit where credit is due. The hope is that all Canadian consumers hold their banking partner accountable to the highest standards of customer experience and platform functionality.

The Service Level Experience was expanded in 2020 and focuses in on 3 main categories to establish the best and worst consumer banking firms in Canada. The areas of review include the various customer service contact options and availability at each banking firm, from both the pre-login and logged-in areas of each firm's digital platforms, and service responsiveness of each firm over the latest calendar year. The following table provides a quick look at the best and worst firm in each category:

NON-CUSTOMER INTERACTION RESOURCES

The Non-Customer Interaction Resources category audits the public-site customer service 'touch-points' and personal assistance a consumer banker can receive from a bank or credit union staff, social media, and other access channels through the various digital platforms offered.

BEST Service ExperiencesLink to Company ReviewWORST Service ExperiencesLink to Company Review
CIBCFull ReviewEQ BANKFull Review
NATIONAL BANK OF CANADAFull ReviewATB FINANCIALFull Review

CUSTOMER INTERACTION RESOURCES

The Customer Interaction Resources category audits the direct banking customer contact with a bank or credit union staff including phone support, messaging centres, live chat, and other touch points of the secure login digital platforms.

BEST Service ExperiencesLink to Company ReviewWORST Service ExperiencesLink to Company Review
CIBCFull ReviewPC FINANCIALFull Review
TD CANADA TRUSTFull ReviewEQ BANKFull Review

SERVICE RESPONSIVENESS

The Service Responsiveness category is a summary of the 157 service interactions collected per firm initiated through the digital bank's chosen public-facing interaction facility, including an average time to respond, a peer-based service level index, the success of any stated response promise guidelines and information on which days of the week are optimal for Canadian consumer bankers. The results are collected through Surviscor's proprietary 15-year Service Level Assessment program.

BEST Service ExperiencesLink to Company ReviewWORST Service ExperiencesLink to Company Review
CONEXUS CREDIT UNIONFull ReviewFIRST CALGARYFull Review
SERVUS CREDIT UNIONFull ReviewBLUESHORE FINANCIALFull Review

The DO-IT-OUR-WAY firms for Service Responsiveness

It is sad to see this list growing each year and the big banks leading the charge. It means that all these firms have abandoned any email-based functionality, either via a normal email address or service request forms and forcing non-customers back to the phones or to use social media sites for information. The trend is growing which is concerning. Is it the new way or adopted by firms who were not particularly good prior? That is for you to decide. #ProfitsOverService

  • SCOTIABANK: Started the movement 10-plus years ago
  • CIBC: Too bad. They are a digital consumer banking experience leader
  • TD CANADA TRUST: Sure has forgotten the Canada Trust roots when it comes to service flexibility
  • TANGERINE: A Virtual Bank that limits e-service options? How the times have changed
  • BMO BANK OF MONTREAL: Entered the club in 2020 after 10 years of slowly falling from the top
  • HSBC CANADA: Profits more important than service?
  • PC FINANCIAL: A Virtual Bank more interested in Credit Card consumers than Banking consumers


KEY FACTS

The 2021 Consumer Banking Service Experience review provides a wealth of information through its collection of over 4,000 individual service interactions. Here is a quick look at some of the key facts:

  • 9 firms improved their one-year service response times by over 25% in 2021 with 8 of the 9 improving by over 35%
  • WEDNESDAY is the BEST day of the week to send service inquiries
  • MOTIVE FINANCIAL woke up in 2021, improving its standing by 18 spots and improving its response time by 81% to 26 hours
  • 10 firms average response times increased by 25% or more in 2021
  • FRIDAY is the WORST day of the week to send service requests
  • The industry average response time was 61.84 hours in 2020, an 8% increase from 2019
  • VIRTUAL BANKS average response times decreased by 26% in 2021 but still have an average response time of 40 hours
  • RBC ROYAL BANK dropped 8 spots in the ranking while its response time increased by 109% TO 109 hours
  • FIRST CALGARY dropped 18 spots in the ranking while its response time increased by 298% to not answering within 5 days

LESSONS LEARNED

Not many years ago, similar reviews would have had two to three of the big banks in the top 5 as Canadian consumer banking contact methods was limited to in-branch visits, phone calls and email-based service. Banks were forced to respond to emails, or service request forms that use email, in public site areas and build secure messaging centres for logged-in customers to interact. Enter social media platforms and the widespread use of artificial intelligence at financial firms and the banks have focused their efforts on reducing traditional customer service representatives and replacing them with virtual assistants and re-purposing some to only service social media-based interactions. Of the big banks, only RBC Royal Bank and National Bank have not made the wholesale changes as of the end of 2021. #ArtificialFrustrationNext

Virtual Banks Continue to Miss the Mark

In addition to the weak features and functionality of the digital platforms, these banks are not providing adequate service responsiveness, methods, or availability of services to both potential and existing customers. Outside of EQ Bank and PC Financial, the other virtual banks fall under larger banking umbrellas and presented as discount offering with lower fees ad higher rates. Is it worth it though? EQ Bank has an average response time of 71 hours, which is down significantly in 2021, and PC Financial only offers full customer service options to its credit card customers. #VirtualNicheBanks

Emails are the Key New Account Identifier but Forget Interactions

There is no doubt Email security can lead to identity issues and potential fraud. Social media also has its proven issues for sure which follow the same path. The bottom line for consumers is that email, Facebook and Twitter are all equally susceptible to fraud and consumers must be careful when they interact through any of the channels. Many firms use web-based forms to interact with potential customers that in theory use email technology to transmit. If the big banks drive account openings and important money transfers using email addresses, then are they riskier? #EmailDiscrimination

The New Customer Interaction - Pass the Security Buck to Socials

All firms now have Facebook and Twitter pages, but their use has somewhat changed. Facebook started out as a marketing informational page and still serves those purposes, but the main reason firms market it is to interact with potential customers. Twitter is much the same despite having a slightly different role in the overall customer service offering. The consumer banking firms have chosen to pass the security credential responsibility to the social media platforms when dealing with non-customers, following the lead of many service-based firms.

People are Still the Key to Cross-Selling

The reality is that all consumer banking firms love to cross-sell other products and services and it is mandated across all customer touch points when firm employees are present. Financial firms love the dog and pony show and always use that mandate when determining the most effective methods to interact with current and potential customers. The goal is to drive customers to the best solution for them, not the customers. #Its NeverEnough

Chat Bots are NOT the Same as Traditional Chats

Are ChatBots, aka Virtual Assistants, not the same as Chat functionality? The answer is No. The difference is that traditional Chat uses real people who respond on the other side. ChatBots use a combination of artificial intelligence and frequently asked questions (FAQ) intelligence in non-secure areas that basically takes a user along a virtual question tree Venn Diagram journey to, hopefully, arrive at the answer to a question. The secure functionality allows the Virtual Assistant to grow on top of the FAQs by allowing access to all account information that simply replaces the need for a customer to navigate the platform. The question is, why do we need a robot to tell us what we can get on our own and how secure does that make our account? #AreVirtualAssistantsSecure

Weekends Offer Less Opportunities than Weekdays

Weekend customer service is the norm across the consumer banking industry with most firms offering, at minimum, 8 hours of coverage. Saturday hourly coverage is minimally more than Sunday coverage but typically weekday coverage runs in the 12-to-14-hour range. Only the big banks tend to offer some level of 24/7 service, but it tends to be phone interactions.


FIRM-by-FIRM RESPONSE TIMES

The ongoing Surviscor Service Monitoring and Benchmarking Program drives the customer service level experience evaluation. The review, now in its 17th year, analyzes the service interaction methods, service availability and 157 individual electronic banking service enquiries per institution, across 32 Canadian consumer banking firms, sent between January 1st, 2021, and December 31st, 2021. The service interactions portion of the analysis uses 'mystery-shopping' public-site contact forms/emails and, occasionally, social media interactions.

2021 Surviscor Response Standards

Surviscor has established 4 defined levels of response standards based on the average time to respond to a service interaction. The standards were first established in 2007 and were adjusted with lower response times in 2010 to reflect a great time for service, only to see the standards increased again in 2020 to, sadly, reflect the new normal of customer service expectations. The 2021 Surviscor Response Standards and non-Standards results were as follows:

Response StandardConsumer Banking FirmAverage Response TimeFull Company Review
PLATINUM: < 6 hoursConexus Credit Union4.93 hoursFull Review
GOLD: 6-12 hoursAssiniboine Credit Union9.27 hoursFull Review
SILVER: 12-18 hoursServus Credit Union15.60 hoursFull Review
BRONZE: 18-24 hoursAlterna Savings23.67 hoursFull Review

Response Times NOT meeting Surviscor Standards

A sad, but true, reality is that only 4 of the 32 Canadian consumer banking firms reviewed, or 12.5%, responded within the Surviscor response standards window of 24 hours. The firms who do not respond in with the 24 hours are then classified into 5 distinct, but nothing to write home about, response clubs. Find a firm:


THE 1 - 2 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Digital Banking FirmAverage Response TimeFull Company Review
ICICI Bank of Canada24.07 hoursFull Review
Motive Financial26.37 hoursFull Review
Steinbach Credit Union28.13 hoursFull Review
Affinity Credit Union29.88 hoursFull Review
Envision Financial35.23 hoursFull Review
Meridian Credit Union35.50 hoursFull Review
ATB Financial35.67 hoursFull Review
Coast Capital Savings36.48 hoursFull Review
Desjardins38.75 hoursFull Review
National Bank of Canada39.23 hoursFull Review
motusbank39.37hoursFull Review
Alterna Bank39.93 hoursFull Review
Simplii Financial46.38 hoursFull Review

THE 2-3 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Digital Banking FirmAverage Response TimeFull Company Review
Vancity60.47 hoursFull Review
EQ Bank71.10 hoursFull Review

THE 3-4 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Digital Banking FirmAverage Response TimeFull Company Review
Manulife Bank of Canada74.37 hoursFull Review
Laurentian Bank of Canada87.12 hoursFull Review

THE 4-5 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Digital Banking FirmAverage Response TimeFull Company Review
RBC Royal Bank108.95 hoursFull Review
Blueshore Financial114.32 hoursFull Review
Pace Credit Union115.17 hoursFull Review
First Calgary Financial120 hoursFull Review

THE NO MORE e-CONTACT CLUB

The No More e-Contact Club is unfortunately growing each year. The club can be described as firms who are no longer interested in communicating with potential consumers via email or public-site forms. Instead, these firms have chosen to push potential consumers to social media, phone and branch-level contact methods. The irony is, in most cases, the primary point of identification and contact when opening an account is, in many cases, an email address. The message is basically that they will allow you to use email once a customer but until then, you better like social media.

Digital Banking FirmFull Company Review
BMO Bank of MontrealFull Review
CIBCFull Review
HSBC CanadaFull Review
PC FinancialFull Review
ScotiabankFull Review
TangerineFull Review
TD Canada TrustFull Review

Go back to the 2021 Service Experience Rankings



THE BOTTOM LINE

Service reputation is the main cornerstone of any business relationship and can be measured in several ways. The simple reality is that the service statistics and concerning newer trends of social-media and virtual assistants, send a message to consumers that the banks are trying to simplify the growing number of customer segments into its own preferred service process. Many of the new innovations were implemented to attract Millennials and Gen Z customers, much to the dismay of older generations, and its success is still under debate. It appears that the industry keeps innovating but the trend is to replace humans with clunky virtual assistants, which are sophisticated FAQs, a next phase we do not like. Just try one with a real question and see how you feel during the experience. #LetsGetSocial


The Surviscor DISCLAIMER

Surviscor takes the ultimate pride in being tough markers and having zero bias in calling-out any firm for both good, and poor, experiences. Identifying firms that offer best of breed, industry-leading products, and services to deserving customers is the mandate. Canadians work hard for their money and having a great consumer banking financial partner is not a privilege. Banking firms do very well by Canadian consumers and should be held accountable to the highest standards of customer experience. Do not forget that the consumer holds the cards, not the banking firm. There are many firms, big and small, to choose from. #FindTheRightFirm



Learn More about Canadian Service Level Experiences:

Online Brokerage Service Levels: 2021 Online Brokerage Service Level Experiences