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UK banks – HSBC accounts for highest share (22%) of negative customer comments online, as planned job losses continue.

ING Direct achieves highest Net Sentiment Score (NSS) with 51%

London 06 OctoberSocial media research specialist DigitalMR releases latest findings 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 July 2011. Just over two thirds (68%) of these customer views are positive, compared with 32% negative.

The banks that receive the highest share of online mentions are: HSBC (19%), Lloyds TSB (17%), Halifax (14%) and Natwest (13%).

There is a large difference in the positive and negative mentions that some of these banks generate. Positive: Lloyds TSB (17%), HSBC (16%) and Halifax (15%) received the highest share of positive posts. Negative: however HSBC (22%) and Lloyds TSB (19%) received a higher proportion of negative comments to positive ones and were the most negatively viewed banks in general with Halifax in third place with 12%.

By calculating the difference in the number of positive posts to negative ones the winner for July is ING Direct with a Net Sentiment Score (NSS) of 51% followed by Bank of Ireland 48%. Across July all banks measured achieved a positive NSS, however HSBC ranks the lowest with a NSS of 25%.

DigitalMR’s report (powered by SocialNuggets) 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: “This is good news for ING Direct. Customers have consistently rated it highly this year but it will be interesting to see now that Capital One has bought ING Direct USA, whether this sentiment will change.”

On the other hand, two of the banks with the lowest NSS - HSBC and Lloyds TSB have both been in the news recently, linked with job cuts. This appears to be having an adverse effect on customer opinion”.

1)    Net Sentiment Score (NSS)

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.
All of the banks measured in July achieve a positive Net Sentiment Score (NSS), with an average NSS of 36%. This is good news for the banking industry as it is now attracting more positive sentiment across the internet than it does negative. ING Direct achieved the highest NSS with 51%, while HSBC was lowest with 25%

Click for Net Sentiment Score ranking

1st ING Direct           51%
2nd Bank of Ireland    48%
3rd    Halifax             46%
4th Natwest              42%
5th Barclays             41%
6th RBS                   37%
7th Santander           32%
8th Lloyds    TSB      29%
9th Clydesdale          29%
10th HSBC               25%

2)    Breakdown of positive and negative posts

Possitive comments on UK banks - July

Negative comments on UK banks - July

3)    Features and Services

DigitalMR measured thousands of customer posts across July, regarding the services and features that banks offer. Services attracting a much higher proportion of negative mentions to positive ones were: Customer Care (19% negative vs 10% positive) and Bank Employees (13% negative vs just 7% positive).
While the service attracting a higher proportion of positive comments was Credit Cards with (18% positive vs 12% negative).

4)    In their words –customer comments

ING Direct:

“I love ING bank! They offered great products and great service. I first started by taking advantage of their online savings account. I subsequently opened 7 more savings accounts and a checking account for bill pay purposes. I think I only called their service centre once, just to say hello to a real person. Sure enough, the customer service rep was just as friendly as I thought they would be”.

“I have had accounts with ING Direct for over 3 years, and have been consistently pleased with the straight-forward approach in which the company operates. There are no fees whatsoever associated with their banking products, and they offer the most competitive rates on savings accounts (currently @ 1%). Also, the current rate they offer on home mortgages is about 2.9%. The customer service is exceptional, and I just love the bold colours on their website!”


I have been a customer of the bank for 24 years and have used their internet banking for a good few years. This new secure key is the bane of my life. You have to remember to keep the key with you at all times as without it you cannot log on. It was so much easier when you just had to type in your security password and your ib number. I wish they would bring back the old internet banking option”.

“Best intentions from HSBC but poor show and I don’t know a single person who is happy with their new Online banking system. Why can’t you still log in and check your balances, make payments to approved payee's etc as per before BUT only use the fob for making changes??????????” .

Bank of Ireland:

“I love friendly service, it makes me smile. Well done this morning to Bank of Ireland on The Quay”.

“You got to be kidding me? @thejournal_ie: Bank of Ireland workers set to pocket €7million in bonuses”.


“I am annoyed, disgusted and hurt, that after all these years and the amount of money they have made off us that they couldn't even be bothered to contact us. What also irks me is that when we took the business loan out, the interest rate was higher than now, yet we are still paying the same amount on what we were told was a variable rate. Therefore, they have had extra money from us and obviously it means nothing.

So if you are looking for a bank that cares about its customers, is helpful and encouraging.... DON'T choose Clydesdale!!”


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 UK 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. For more information, please visit



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