The four-strong team at Handelsbanken in Tunbridge Wells is celebrating, after learning that the bank has been rated top for customer satisfaction for the third year running, in an independent survey of British banks’ personal and business customers*.
The 140-year-old bank, which has had a branch in Tunbridge Wells for 2 and a half years, emerged head and shoulders above its UK high street competitors, both for satisfaction and loyalty. This is a position Handelsbanken has enjoyed in its home country of Sweden for more than 20 years.
The survey confirms that Handelsbanken has managed to increase overall customer satisfaction during another record year of UK expansion. Indeed, since the financial crisis began three years ago, the bank has almost doubled its British branch network which, as well as the Tunbridge Wells branch, now serves individual and corporate customers in 112 other communities across the country.
“Our experienced local team has real power to listen to a customer’s needs, use their initiative and local knowledge and make decisions for long-term mutual benefit,” says Nick Green, branch manager of Handelsbanken Tunbridge Wells. “We do not have sales targets or receive performance bonuses which could distort this focus. Nor do we operate credit-scoring or remote call centres, because our customers have never asked for them.”
The bank operates around 750 branches in 22 countries worldwide, with the UK representing its fastest-growing market. Around two-thirds of the bank’s 900 UK staff are employed in branches, reflecting Handelsbanken’s strongly decentralised operating model.
Explains Professor Jan Eklof of EPSI Rating, which co-ordinates the benchmark survey across 17 countries: “Customer satisfaction with Handelsbanken has been consistently higher than its British High Street competitors. But more striking is the even higher level of customer loyalty the bank attracts, which is a harder result for any organisation to achieve.”
Handelsbanken recently published its latest (Q3) financial results. They reaffirm the bank’s exceptionally strong capital and liquidity positions and its low credit loss ratios, which have earned it among the highest credit ratings of any international bank.
“For us, the branch is the bank, and we are committed to continue expanding in the UK, customer by customer and branch by branch,” says Anders Bouvin, Handelsbanken’s UK chief executive. “Each branch is able to draw on the strong credit ratings and stable finances of one of Europe’s 25 largest banks, recently rated one of the world’s strongest by Bloomberg**.”
He continues: “This mix of local decision-making and global financial strength is proving attractive to increasing numbers of financially prudent customers across the UK, some of whom have begun to feel disillusioned with their existing bank.”