Table of Contents

Introduction

In this week’s insight report, we explore the loyalty and opinions of Irish consumers towards their primary bank. On the news of Ulster Bank exiting the Republic of Ireland market, the Irish banking industry is ripe for change and if banks are to capitalise on the opportunities, they must listen to their consumers and provide the best experience and value for them. This research was gathered on 13th January 2021 over 24 hours. 1375 responses were collected from 18-55 year olds in the Republic of Ireland.

Loyalty

The most popular bank among our respondents was AIB, with 42.76% of respondents saying it is their primary bank account. Bank of Ireland was second, with 29.96% of respondents having it as their primary bank account. After AIB and Bank of Ireland, there is a significant gap between the other competitors. Permanent TSB has about 9.38% of respondents using it as their primary bank, then Ulster Bank and Revolut are roughly tied with 6% of respondents using them as their primary bank. 

Bar chart of the most popular banks that respondents use as their primary bank, with AIB coming out on top with 42.76% of respondents.

Nearly half or (46%) of respondents have more than one bank account. Thus, the consumer’s choice for their primary bank is not as significant as it once was. 43% of respondents are quite likely to recommend their bank to a friend while 1 in 5 are extremely likely to do so. Less than 10% are not likely at all to recommend to a friend. We also asked respondents how likely they are to switch their primary bank account if they were unhappy with the service or found a better alternative. Only 12.8% of respondents are not likely at all to switch. Another 38.25% of respondents are quite likely to switch, while only 14.25% of respondents are extremely likely to switch.

Contact

The traditional method of interacting with your primary bank is to visit your local branch. Even in the age of mobile and COVID 19, 66.25% of our respondents have visited their primary bank branch in the last year. When asked how they would contact their primary bank if they were to do so, 38.91% of the respondents said they would do so via telephone. One quarter of the respondents would do so via their mobile app, while another quarter would visit their nearest bank branch.

Ratings

Roughly one quarter of respondents would rate their overall experience at their primary bank as “Very Good”. Most respondents (43.13%) rate their bank as “Good”, and approximately 5% of respondents would rate their bank as “Poor” or below. 

Respondents still think quite highly of their bank’s mobile adoption. Almost 40% of respondents rate their bank’s digital adoption and customer experience via mobile and desktop as “Good”. Over a quarter of respondents believe their bank’s digital adoption has been “Very Good” and only 22% rate it as “Average”.

Less than 6% of respondents rate their bank’s customer service as “poor” or “very poor”, with the most respondents (44.58%) describing their bank’s customer service as “Good”. One fifth of respondents rate their bank’s customer service as “Very Good”.

Functions

The primary functions our respondents require from their primary bank were payment services, that is paying friends, bills etc. This was followed by depositing their savings. Investing activities were among the least required services from a bank according to respondents.

Preference chart of respondent's preferred functions that require them to use their primary bank account.

Conclusion

  • Duplicity of Accounts: Almost half of all respondents hold a current account in more than one bank. This most likely comes down to the importance of ‘Payments (e.g. friends, bills)’ for customers. There is a clear divide between using one account for day-to-day needs, and another for all long-term financial needs e.g. borrowing and savings.
  • Old Habits Die Hard: Despite an appreciation of the technological advancements made by Irish banks, 38% of customers still rely on telephoning their primary bank for customer service queries and 66% visited their primary branch when required over the last year. Despite the growth of an online, automated system for customer service, old consumer habits must be cared for.
  • Barriers to Switching Dropping: A growing trend in recent years is the reduction in switching costs facing consumers. It has never been easier, or more encouraged, to change your financial provider. As disruption increases and new alternatives emerge, it is essential that banks deliver exceptional customer service, focus on loyalty and build up these barriers in a more meaningful way.

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