1 in 5 Singaporeans mull over switching from main bank, study reveals

It is reported that almost 20 percent of customers, or one in five, are considering leaving their primary bank for another in the next year.

MTI, STB seek feedback on amendments for travel agents law
The Singapore Merlion is seen in front of the city centre, in Singapore. Reuters

A study by JD Power has revealed that probably a portion of Singapore bank customers are not satisfied with the services of their current bank.

Almost 20 percent of customers, or one in five, are considering leaving their primary bank for another in the next year. The study found out that amongst all banking channels, self-service ones such as ATMs, online and mobile banking are garnering higher satisfaction scores than the person-to-person channels like bank branches and customer service hotlines.

Of all the banks in Singapore included in the study, OCBC ranked the highest in customer satisfaction with retail banking with a score of 746, performing particularly well in the area of account activities and fees. Citibank ranks second (745) and DBS ranks third (743).

JD Power Service Industry Practice Leader Anthony Chiam said the migration of customers to self-service channels leaves banks with fewer opportunities to engage customers face-to-face.

"It becomes more challenging to provide complex financial advice or discuss products to meet the needs of a customer's different life stages. The branch remains an important channel, and it is crucial for banks to strike the balance in their overall channel strategy," Chiam noted in a statement.

More so, what aggravates the satisfaction rating of Singapore customers is the worsening average waiting time needed whilst processing concerns in a branch. According to the study, the average waiting time in Singapore is 12.4 minutes, three times longer than in the United States and more than twice as long as in Australia and Canada.

This has discouraged customers from visiting an in-person bank. The study revealed that only 44% of them have visited their primary banking branch in the past 12 months, lower than the 71 percent of customers in the United States, 61 percent in Australia and 81 percent in Canada.

This has led to the rise of the reliance on mobile banking apps, with 41% of bank customers using their phones instead of visiting branches physically.

According to JD Power Senior Director Gordon Shields, the investment that banks have made for their mobile banking channels seem to be paying off.

"Encouragingly, 77% of customers indicate that they are likely to apply for a new account or product using a mobile banking app. This conveys the need for banks to tailor offerings and create the right user experience that will attract customers on the move," he explained in a statement.