In our 2020 European Banking Customer Experience Index (CX Index™), mutuals and direct banks outperformed traditional banks in terms of customer experience (CX) in the UK, France, Italy, and Spain. Why? Because mutuals and direct banks excel at the three E’s of customer experience: ease, effectiveness, and emotion. But they do it differently.

When we delved into a more in-depth analysis of the dynamics of banking CX within each country, we saw that:

  • Mutuals win on emotion. Mutuals like Crédit Mutuel and Crédit Agricole, the top-scoring brands in the 2020 France Banking CX Index, and Banca di Credito Cooperativo o Cassa Rurale (BCC), which earned second place in the 2020 Italy Banking CX Index, score higher on emotion than their competitors. By their nature, mutuals have strong local ties and are laser-focused on delivering value to members rather than shareholders. Building on a heritage of branches’ strong connections to their local communities, BCC and parent organization Iccrea’s strategy emphasizes a human approach in which digital and technological innovation augment, but do not replace, person-to-person interactions. Crédit Mutuel, too, is trusted for its understanding of local customers and has a tool that provides real-time insights on customers’ emotions. COVID-19 has increased consumers’ focus on corporate values, and mutuals’ commitment to their local communities will position them well to serve those values-based customers.
  • Direct banks outperform competitors on ease and effectiveness — especially on digital. ING, the leader in 2020 in both the Italy Banking CX Index and the Spain Banking CX Index, differentiates through simplicity, innovation, and a strong focus on financial well-being. The bank’s instant lending program simplified and digitized the lending journey, allowing customers to go from onboarding to loan approval in just 10 minutes. ING benchmarks itself against tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon that have raised customers’ expectations for easy and effective experiences — and in turn, ING raises the bar for easy and effective banking experiences.
  • Banks that deliver excellent CX deliver all three E’s simultaneously. For the first time in Europe, two banking brands achieved CX Index scores in the excellent category: UK-based Monzo Bank and First Direct. These direct banks excel at delivering easy and effective experiences. But each has also built strong emotional connections with its customers. Monzo Bank embeds financial management tools deeply in its mobile app, with functionalities like the gambling block that encourage and enable customers to have healthy financial lives. First Direct outperforms every other bank in our index by at least 9 percentage points on drivers of good customer service experiences. These banks took two different paths to achieve the same end: easy, effective, and emotionally positive customer experiences.

Banking brands must prioritize CX improvements based on what matters to their customers and fits with their brand. Underlying data behind the CX Index can help banks identify the key drivers of a great CX for their customers. This allows you to focus on improving the aspects of experiences that matter most for driving revenue and avoid wasting time and money on those that don’t move the needle.

To learn more about how banking brands deliver easy, effective, and emotionally positive experiences in the UK, France, Italy, and Spain, check out these reports:

(Clarissa Skinner contributed to this blog post.)