Most loved and hated banks in South Africa — with one slipping badly

Banking was among South Africa’s “most liked” industries in the past year, beating retail, insurance, and telecommunications.

That is according to the SA Banking Sentiment Index for 2022 compiled by DataEQ, the company formerly known as BrandsEye.

The index analysed over 4 million social media posts published about the country’s major banks between September 2021 and August 2022.

The banks considered included African Bank, Absa, Capitec, Discovery Bank, FNB, Nedbank, Standard Bank and TymeBank.

DataEQ head of client service, Sarah Lamb, said the banking industry’s net sentiment improved significantly over the past year, shooting up from -7.5% in 2021 to 9.4% in 2022.

“This sharp improvement saw banks climb to first place in the cross-industry net sentiment comparison, suggesting South Africans had a generally better experience with their banks than local retailers, insurers and telcos,” Lamb said.

FNB was the most likeable bank overall, with a positive net sentiment index score of 37.5%, followed by Absa with 25.8% and African Bank with 14.1%.

Two other banks also had a net-positive sentiment — Discovery Bank and TymeBank — with 7.9% and 5.3%, respectively.

At the other end of the spectrum, Capitec Bank faired worst, with a negative sentiment of -15.4%.

Standard Bank and Nedbank also had negative sentiments of -8.2% and -3.4%, respectively.

The graph below shows the public net sentiment of each major bank included in the analysis.

DataEQ also found that nearly all the banks followed an upward trajectory in net sentiment over the past few years, particularly from 2020.

That is except for Capitec, which has displayed a year-on-year decline in net sentiment performance since 2019.

In addition, all banks apart from Capitec and Nedbank showed year-on-year improvements from 2021.

“While Nedbank’s decline was relatively minor, Capitec’s overall score dropped by 4.5 percentage points, marking a depreciation in consumer sentiment compared to the previous index
results,” said DataEQ.

The graph below shows the changes in public net sentiment

The brand researchers attributed much of the success of the best-performing banks this year to online campaigns like Absa’s #WeDoMoreWednesdays and FNB’s #LoveFNB.

These incentivised customers to speak positively about their experiences with certain banking products and services.

“This flooded their operational net sentiment and, to some degree, affected the level of customer service the banks could provide.

“This is a clear example of how campaigns cannot only be used to boost reputational sentiment but operational sentiment too,” DataEQ said.

The index also looked at which banks were most likely to see more accounts opened or closed and calculated a net intent score indicating potential losses or gains in customers.

Interestingly, while FNB and Absa ranked best in terms of overall net sentiment, they had very low potential net intent for new customers — at 0.2% and -0.3% — respectively.

Discovery Bank and African Bank had the highest potential net intent — with 4.7% and 6.5%. Capitec had the worst potential net intent of -1.7%.

Whereas social media campaigns and service level improvements helped push up net sentiment, posts concerning viral incidents and banking outages contributed most to negative sentiment.

“Digital downtime was a major obstacle in this regard, impacting the industry negatively and eroding consumer confidence in banks,” DataEQ stated.

Capitec suffered severe downtime in early August 2022, taking down online and mobile banking channels for several days.

The bank also experienced two in-branch incidents during the period analysed, which raised safety concerns.

In one of these incidents, an angry naked woman was filmed trashing computers in one of the bank’s branches in November 2021 and

Standard Bank, which had the second-worst net sentiment, also saw a flurry of digital banking outages over several months during the assessed period.

The graphs below provide a more detailed breakdown of customers’ sentiment around specific elements of their bank — including operations, reputation, pricing, and digital experience.

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Most loved and hated banks in South Africa — with one slipping badly