Surviscor Canadian Consumer Banking Experience Reviews - Canada's BEST and WORST Consumer Banking Customer Service Experiences

The BEST and WORST Consumer Banking Customer Service Level Experiences in Canada

Desjardins provides the Best Digital Banking Service Experience in Canada

Today's customer service experiences need to be measured differently than in the past. Prior to digital adoption, customer service was measured by evaluating email, face-to-face and phone interactions support between a customer and a service provider. Today, the measurement extends beyond those three types and includes form-based, live chat, virtual assistants, and social media interactions and the ability to book in-person or virtual meetings using digital platforms. The problem is that it does not appear that digital banking customers are receiving improved service levels today than a decade ago, despite the increased methods of interacting.

One possible explanation for the decreased level of service and apparent accountability is that digital banking firms are more interested in ever to gain a larger share of the customer's wallet and digital interactions do not offer the best way to acquire those assets. Instead, more than ever before, most of the service interaction methods are acting like screening tools with the ultimate solution for the digital banker to pick up the phone or head to the branch where the prospective or current customer can be cross sold on other products and services. The tricky reality is that we feel that customers are being best serviced where the digital banking firms wants them to be rather than where the customer would like to be and if you feel the same, look for a new financial partner.

It appears that firms are providing more customer service interaction choices, but we need to ask ourselves if that is really what we are looking for if the current levels of digital service are at the worst levels since the adoption of digital services. At least the digital banking industry continues to provide extended weekday and some weekend support, something that can't be said in the online brokerage industry

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group


Review Headlines

The results this year have a similar top three finish with a little jockeying amongst those firms. The differentiation of these firms versus all the big banks, credit unions and neo banks is their commitment to responsiveness. Here are the headlines:

DESJARDINS is #1

Quebec-based co-operative DESJARDINS moved into the top spot in terms of overall service methods, availability, and responsiveness for the first time after several years in jockeying around the top 3.

CONEXUS CREDIT UNION is Dethroned

CONEXUS CREDIT UNION who has been the winner the past three years was narrowly knocked off its perch landing in a tie for second place.

NATIONAL BANK Ranks Best Amongst BIG BANKS

NATIONAL BANK of CANADA finished in the top 5 overall and is the highest ranked BIG BANK.

SIMPLII FINANCIAL Ranks Best Amongst NEO BANK

SIMPLII FINANCIAL not only provides the best service experience amongst NEO BANKS, but it is also the most improved firm moving up 11 positions.

ASSINIBOINE CREDIT UNION Provides the Quickest Responses

ASSINIBOINE CREDIT UNION provided the quickest response time in 2023 amongst the 22 firms who offer a non-e-contact, non-phone interaction method with a 4.12-hour average response time over 145 service interactions.

LAURENTIAN BANK is Asleep Again

After appearing alive last year for the first time in many years, LAURENTIAN BANK OF CANADA has, like its executive direction, taken a turn for the worse dropping 14 rank positions to 23rd overall.

BLUESHORE FINANCIAL Maintains its Worst Responsiveness Shame

BLUESHORE FINANCIAL continues to have the dubious honour of being the worst firm in terms of non-customer interactions, responding in 115.74 hours, up five hours from 2022. Seriously? Why even bother?


It may be another year but unfortunately the story remains the same as it appears that most firms are less committed to service in an industry that use to set the bar across all industries. The scary reality is that as one method becomes too expensive or poorly serviced, another so-called innovative, marketing-hyped, method is introduced with no improvements to the overall service experience.

Surviscor Research Team

Go to Review Highlights

Go to The BEST and WORST Firms by Category

Go to The Last Word


2023 Service Experience Rankings

Service Experience RankDigital Banking FirmExperience ScoreLink to Company Review
1DESJARDINS (Quebec-based CO-OPERATIVE)82 %See Full Analysis
T-2CONEXUS CREDIT UNION81 %See Full Analysis
T-2SERVUS CREDIT UNION81 %See Full Analysis
4SIMPLII FINANCIAL80 %See Full Analysis
5NATIONAL BANK OF CANADA57 %See Full Analysis
6ASSINIBOINE CREDIT UNION55 %See Full Analysis
7CIBC48 %See Full Analysis
8VANCITY45 %See Full Analysis
9COAST CAPITAL SAVINGS40 %See Full Analysis
10BMO BANK OF MONTREAL39 %See Full Analysis
T-11ALTERNA SAVINGS38 %See Full Analysis
T-11TD CANADA TRUST38 %See Full Analysis
T-13SCOTIABANK35 %See Full Analysis
T-13TANGERINE35 %See Full Analysis
T-15RBC ROYAL BANK34 %See Full Analysis
T-15STEINBACH CREDIT UNION34 %See Full Analysis
17ENVISION FINANCIAL33 %See Full Analysis
T-18MOTUSBANK32 %See Full Analysis
T-18ATB FINANCIAL32 %See Full Analysis
20MANULIFE BANK of CANADA30 %See Full Analysis
T-21MERIDIAN CREDIT UNION27 %See Full Analysis
T-21BLUESHORE FINANCIAL27 %See Full Analysis
T-21LAURENTIAN BANK of CANADA27 %See Full Analysis
24MOTIVE FINANCIAL25 %See Full Analysis
T-25ALTERNA BANK23 %See Full Analysis
T-25HSBC CANADA23 %See Full Analysis
T-27EQ BANK22 %See Full Analysis
T-27ICICI BANK of CANADA22 %See Full Analysis
29PC FINANCIAL17 %See Full Analysis
30AFFINITY CREDIT UNION12 %See Full Analysis
31PACE CREDIT UNION8 %See Full Analysis
32FIRST CALGARY FINANCIAL4 %See Full Analysis


Review Highlights

Initial Impressions Tell a Big Story

Surviscor reviews service interactions for over 45 Canadian financial services firms and has been collecting and reviewing over 110,000 interactions over the past 15 years. All firms reviewed are offered the opportunity to act, and react, to the records with the hopes of dedicating themselves to improving service levels. Some are interested. Some are not. In most cases, the outside-the-walls experience provides a high-probability view of the future inside-the-walls customer-based experience.

Digital Banking Consumers are Not Being Serviced Properly

Yes, that is a big statement and one we stand by. There are actually numerous types of customer service interaction methods available when looking at the industry's global set of features and functionality. There are some traditional methods, some newer technologies, social media support, and some methods that facilitate interactions like booking an appointment. When we look closer at the availability of the methods on both desktop-based and mobile-based platforms at most firms, the number of irregularities is notable indicating that even the firms are not sold on the methods provided.

Trust Factors Have Followed the Evolution

The first try at immediate non-phone customer interaction was Chat, a first-generation live human-based interaction using a keyboard or accessibility method with very limited daily coverage. Then came Chat-Bots which eliminated a human from the equation and extended hours of coverage but typically ended in the need for a phone call. Then came social media platforms which acted more like the first-generation Chat interaction but is now questioned due to its questionable ownership and security. Now Virtual Assistants - Are they a different name for Chat-Bots? - have been introduced and some industry experts say that they were introduced as a marketing tool rather than enhancing service. Either way, digital banking consumers don't trust them anymore than they do social methods.

Secure Interaction Methods Remain Nothing to Brag About

Financial Institutions, and rightfully so, make a big deal about the danger of non-secure interactions. The message to onlookers is that customers receive better treatment and more effective methods once inside the walls, but the research continues to indicate otherwise. In most cases, those areas of customer interaction within the walls are dated and poorly designed for near-instant messaging and the turn-around times are not as fast as one would hope once signed-in.

Firms Need to Fix Issues - Not Abandon Them

Technology allows for innovation, and it welcomed by most. The banking industry loves to introduce new customer interaction capabilities but, in our opinion, some of the decisions are made to abandon a problem instead of fixing the problem. There's no doubt that getting rid of a customer service method that is poorly supported is easier than fixing issue. But what can get lost at the firm level is that increased usage by digital banking consumer could be because of poor digital platform designs or simply that the consumer simply feels comfortable with the method of interaction.

Firms Should Not Offer Methods They Don't Support

We are very tough on the firms who do not offer non-social-based customer service options to prospective and existing customers because we don't believe the reasons, or excuses, they use for abandoning the methods. But there are so many firms who offer methods they clearly do not pay attention to with response times in days rather than minutes or hours that maybe the lazy firms were smarter than we give them credit for. At an average industry response time of over 49 hours, it is clear that many of these firms are taking these digital banking consumers for granted and should look inside their own walls at the culture in place.

Artificial Intelligence Cross-Sells - It is NOT Customer Service

Firms love to tell us they are using AI but what they really are using AI for is to cross-sell products and services under the guise of an optimal digital user experience. As human interaction replacements, the new robot-based/AI-based virtual assistants are failing miserably, and we should not be surprised. They are really chat-bots, but nobody wants to call them chats, or even better they represent a sophisticated FAQ - Frequently Asked Question-that really isn't any better than a good interactive one. They do not represent a real conversation with a real and live customer service representative and digital banking consumers should understand that.

Neo/Virtual Banks Missing the Mark

Another year, same story. The premise of a NEO BANK is that it is a bank or financial institution that does not have branches. One would think that not having branches would mean the need for a full range of digital-based customer interaction methods and a necessity to offer timeliness interactions, but it simply is not the case as these banks are not providing adequate service responsiveness, methods, or availability of services to both potential and existing customers. Outside of EQ BANK, who's average response time is 60 hours and PC FINANCIAL, who only offers full customer service methods to its credit card customers, the other Neo Banks fall under larger banking umbrellas and are presented as discount offering with lower fees and higher rates. Branchless means digital and digital equals digital service interactions so what is going on here?


Poor results can happen from time to time which is acceptable and can be forgiven. What can't be forgiven is ignorance and the lack of respect that comes from a pattern of poor service interaction methods and responsiveness, especially when few firms make the effort to change the narrative.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group


The BEST and WORST Firms - By Category

The Service Level Experience audits three main categories and 8 sub-categories to establish the best and digital consumer banking experience firms in Canada. The general approach is to analyze all available customer service contact options and the availability at each online brokerage firm and focus in on both the pre-login and logged-in areas of each firm's digital platforms. The last component, and most important as it provides the necessary differentiation between firms, is the actual service responsiveness of each firm over the latest calendar year. The following provides a quick look at the individual category results:

Category 1: NON-CUSTOMER INTERACTION RESOURCES

The Non-Customer Interaction Resources category audits the public-site customer service touchpoints and personal assistance a consumer banker can use at any given consumer banking services firm including phone support, messaging centres, live chat, and other non-secure touch points on both the desktop-based and mobile-based platforms.

BEST Service ExperiencesLink to Company ReviewWORST Service ExperiencesLink to Company Review
CIBCSee Full AnalysisEQ BANKSee Full Analysis
NATIONAL BANK OF CANADASee Full AnalysisATB FINANCIALSee Full Analysis

Category 2: CUSTOMER INTERACTION RESOURCES

The Customer Interaction Resources category audits the self-directed contact methods available at digital consumer banking experience firms including phone support, messaging centres, live chat, and other touchpoints of the secure login desktop and mobile platforms.

BEST Service ExperiencesLink to Company ReviewWORST Service ExperiencesLink to Company Review
CIBCSee Full AnalysisEQ BANKSee Full Analysis
TD CANADA TRUSTSee Full AnalysisMOTUSBANKSee Full Analysis


Category 3: SERVICE RESPONSIVENESS

The Service Responsiveness category is a summary of the 142 service interactions collected per firm initiated through the digital banking firm'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 the optimal days of the week to interact. The results are collected using Surviscor's proprietary 19-year Service Level Monitoring and Benchmarking program.

FIRM RESPONSE TIMES and SURVISCOR STANDARDS

Surviscor has established 4 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 good era for service, only to see the standards increased again in 2020 to, sadly, reflect the new normal of customer service expectations. The 2023 Surviscor Response Standards and non-Standards results are:

Response StandardDigital Banking FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
PLATINUM: < 6 hoursAssiniboine Credit Union4.12 hoursSee Full Analysis
GOLD: 6-12 hoursDesjardins21.07 hoursSee Full Analysis
Conexus Credit Union6.75 hoursSee Full Analysis
Simplii Financial6.88 hoursSee Full Analysis
Servus Credit Union7.32 hoursSee Full Analysis
SILVER: 12-18 hoursSteinbach Credit Union16.07 hoursSee Full Analysis
BRONZE: 18-24 hoursEnvision Financial20.93 hoursSee Full Analysis

BELOW SURVISCOR STANDARD RESPONSE TIMES

The good news is that the Non-Standards club is getting smaller as 5 firms jumped into the Surviscor response standards window of 24 hours. The remaining 7 firms, who do not respond within 24 hours, are classified into 5 distinct, but nothing to write home about, response clubs. Hopefully your firm is not a member because this club has no privileges.


THE 1 - 2 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Digital Banking FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
ICICI Bank of Canada29.08 hoursSee Full Analysis
Vancity32.32 hoursSee Full Analysis
National Bank of Canada39.67 hoursSee Full Analysis
ATB Financial43.55 hoursSee Full Analysis

THE 2-3 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
motusbank60.60 hoursSee Full Analysis
EQ Bank60.63 hoursSee Full Analysis
Manulife Bank of Canada67.37 hoursSee Full Analysis
Alterna Savings68.63 hoursSee Full Analysis
Affinity Credit Union69.97 hoursSee Full Analysis

THE 3-4 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
Coast Capital Savings74.78 hoursSee Full Analysis
Laurentian Bank of Canada75.80 hoursSee Full Analysis
Motive Financial82.00 hoursSee Full Analysis

THE 4-5 DAYS TO RESPOND CLUB

Online Brokerage FirmAverage Response TimeLink to Company Review
Alterna Bank98.18 hoursSee Full Analysis
Meridian Credit Union102.10 hoursSee Full Analysis
Blueshore Financial115.75 hoursSee Full Analysis

THE NO MORE e-CONTACT CLUB

The No More e-Contact Club unfortunately grows each year but the good news is that it only has one new member in 2023; FIRST CALGARY FINANCIAL.

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 email and in many cases the email becomes a customer's 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 and wasting time waiting on hold using your phone.

Digital Banking FirmLink to Company Review
BMO Bank of MontrealSee Full Analysis
CIBCSee Full Analysis
First Calgary FinancialSee Full Analysis
HSBC CanadaSee Full Analysis
Pace Credit UnionSee Full Analysis
PC FinancialSee Full Analysis
RBC Royal BankSee Full Analysis
ScotiabankSee Full Analysis
TangerineSee Full Analysis
TD Canada TrustSee Full Analysis

Key Service Responsiveness Findings

The Service Responsiveness category provides a wealth of information through its collection of over 2900 individual service interactions in 2023. Here is a quick look at some of the key findings:

  • ASSINIBOINE CREDIT UNION has the lowest response time of 4.12 hours, an improvement of 6 hours (146%)
  • SIMPLII FINANCIAL's response time improved 72 hours to 6.88 hours (1,047%)
  • SERVUS CREDIT UNION improved 25 hours to 7.32-hour response time (347%)
  • DESJARDINS improved 15 hours to 6.12-hour response time (244%)
  • LAURENTIAN BANK of CANADA improved 38 hours to 48.88-hour response time
  • THURSDAY is the BEST day of the week to send service inquiries

  • Industry average response time remained at 49 hours in 2023
  • BLUESHORE FINANCIAL takes 115 hours to respond to non-customers
  • MERIDIAN CREDIT UNION's average response time worsened by almost 40 hours to 102.10 hours (39% decline)
  • ALTERNA SAVINGS' average response time worsened by 29 hours to 68.63 hours (43% decline)
  • ALTERNA BANK' average response time worsened 35 hours to 98.18 hours (36% decline)
  • EQ BANK's average response time is 60.63 hours
  • FRIDAY is the WORST day of the week to send service requests

Go back to the Service Experience Rankings


The Last Word

A firm culture of service accountability typically results in good customer service for consumers because anything less than great is unacceptable and could affect both current and prospective customers and overall share of wallet. The problem today is that the bar has decreased and the former acceptance of great has now become a level of good.

What is abundantly clear is that most firms are currently operating well below good and should be held accountable by digital banking consumers. Never forget that financial institutions count on you, the consumer, for their ultimate profitability and success which means you deserve to hold your current, or potential firm, to the highest service and platform experience standards. If they fail, there are plenty of others to choose from.


Would you like to see where Canadian Online Broker service levels are at?

Canada's Best and Worst Online Brokerage Service Experiences