Back to DMR in the Press

HSBC accounts for over a quarter of negative customer comments online for UK banks in November according to web listening report from DigitalMR

Social Media Research specialist DigitalMR releases latest web listening report on what customers are saying about UK high street banks online. DigitalMR analysed thousands of customer comments about high street banks for the month of November 2011. Nearly two thirds (60%) of these customer views are positive, compared with 40% negative. The first ever annual banking report covering the whole of 2011 will be available later this month.

The banks that receive the highest share of online mentions are: HSBC (20%), Lloyds TSB (17%), RBS (17%) and Halifax (11%).

There is a large difference in the positive and negative mentions that some of these banks generate. RBS (21%), Lloyds TSB (16%), HSBC (16%) and Halifax (13%) received the highest share of positive posts. However HSBC (28%) and Lloyds TSB (18%), NatWest (14%) and RBS (12%) receive the highest shares of negative comments.

By calculating the difference in the number of positive posts to negative ones the winner for November is ING Direct with a Net Sentiment Score (NSS) of 64% followed by Clydesdale Bank with 60%. Across November only two of the banks measured achieved a negative NSS, NatWest with minus 6% and HSBC (-8%).

DigitalMR’s report (powered by SociaNuggets) analyses thousands of customer comments posted via a range of relevant finance related websites and open access social media platforms. It measures, not only the number of comments posted by consumers on the internet, but also sentiment – whether these posts are positive or negative.

Results are based on comments posted by consumers on the major UK banks: Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Halifax, NatWest, Bank of Ireland, Santander, Barclays, RBS, ING Direct, and Clydesdale Bank.

Managing Director of DigitalMR, Michalis Michael commented: “It seems ING Direct is the bank to benchmark for excellent customer service. It has been consistently rated highly by its customers right across 2011, so it’s no surprise to see them outperforming the other main high street banks for November.”


1) Net Sentiment Score (NSS)

Only two of the banks we measured, achieve a negative Net Sentiment Score (NSS) for November. NSS provides an overall percentage score of net positive posts. A positive score means a bank attracts more positive than negative posts, while a negative score suggests a higher proportion of negative posts.

The average NSS taken across all banks measured is 20%, which shows that UK consumers are happy to use social media as a space to spread praise as well as share poor customer experiences of the service they have used.

UK Banks Net Sentiment Score


2) Breakdown of positive and negative posts

UK Banks Positive Posts

UK Banks Negative Posts


3) Features and Services

DigitalMR measured thousands of customer posts across November, regarding the services and features that banks offer. Services attracting a much higher proportion of negative mentions to positive ones were: Online Banking (26% negative vs 11% positive), Bank Employees (16% negative vs 6% positive) and Customer Care (16% negative vs 11% positive). 

One service attracting a much higher proportion of positive comments was Loans (21% positive vs 13% negative).


4) In their words –customer comments

ING Direct:

“ING Direct customer service is awesome, connected to a real person, problem solved in 2 minutes. Thank you!"

“I took the 500K away and put it with ING DIRECT who are awesome.3 Transfers in and out ( £1.7m) over the phone in 5 mins since”.


“My intention would be to leave some funds in there and save for the new ISA year but tie the rest up in fixed term accounts. The three year deals don’t seem that bad these days. Clydesdale seems a decent one!”

“Just back home from taking the Clydesdale Bank SPL trophy to Renfrew Vic's U9s, 10s and 11s great to see how happy it made the kids. Good deed!”


“Nat West - what a joke - they manipulate their customers into "improving" their accounts but really it is just an excuse to get fees off them. I have been with them for over 10 years and in that time they have become the non-listening bank. I wanted to consolidate debts created by small home improvement bills - they wouldn't give me a lone but would offer me a mortgage nearly doubling the debt”.

"NatWest is the worst bank I have ever experienced... navigating the online banking site is unreasonably difficult, requiring a sequence of pin and password convolutions that are akin to what one would imagine highly classified secret agents would use to access top secret data. I would advise anyone considering banking with NatWest to explore other options”.


“Mrs just been to HSBC and it's kicking off, people crying, people shouting at staff cus they can't pay their rent. Limited to £70 per withdrawal over the counter. Good job I filled my car up and got £40 out” 

“I last made payment to this loan in 2007. This is about the enforceability of the loan if the prescribed terms are incorrect or missing. This loan is on my credit file has having been defaulted in 2007, but this matter has now been complicated by the fact that HSBC have merged this loan with a bank account I used to hold with them”.


5) How can Banks use social media to their advantage? 

Banks can use analysis of data from websites and other social media in the following ways:

  • Engage in a one-to-one dialogue with their customers and respond to negative comments.
  • Invite some of the customers to join online forums and chat groups to further express their views.
  • Positive sentiment can be leveraged in advertising.
  • Operations can learn about and fix specific branch performance issues.
  • Financial products can be adjusted, and new ones can be designed to meet customer needs.


About the syndicated banking report

The monthly banking report monitors thousands of customers’ online conversations through comments posted on open-access social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, forums, blogs, microblogs and commercial websites, for US banking services.

The report is available on annual subscription with updates provided on a quarterly, monthly or weekly basis. Results will be updated to the press on a monthly basis.



For regular reports and more information:

Michalis A. Michael
tel: +44 751 571 0370


About DigitalMR
DigitalMR understands what people think and feel when they share views online. It is a specialist agency which provides a holistic approach to web based market research. It specialises in utilising social media research, especially active web-listening, and online communities to enhance its business consulting approach. The agency has pioneered new methods in online focus groups alongside tools such as video diaries, bulletin boards and online ethnography. DigitalMR is headed by founder and MD, Michalis Michael and has offices in London UK, Nicosia Cyprus, and Columbus Ohio, in the US.


About SocialNuggets
SocialNuggets technology delivers real-time market intelligence for fast moving industries by analyzing data from various social media sources with a mission to liberate social media data and sentiment analysis for use in real-time research of brands, products and features. SocialNuggets delivers ready to use market intelligence for various industry verticals including consumer electronics and banking. SocialNuggets data is delivered in bite size, ready-to-consume, infographics and is also available in the form of a full access to our data warehouse for analysis and integration with customers’ data. SocialNuggets, a Serendio company, was founded in 2011 with headquarters in Santa Clara, CA.



Share this article: