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U.K. Study Shows Net Sentiment Affected by Taxpayer Bailouts, Customer Care

Among the U.K.'s largest banks, those that received government bailouts also received the most negative customer comments across the social web, while customer service was the most talked about subject.

Among major United Kingdom banks, net sentiment appears to indicate a correlation between banks that received taxpayer bailouts and negative reviews.

London-based online market research company DigitalMR found that, on a number of monitored websites and social media platforms, publicly bailed-out banks reveived the most criticism, and that customer care was the biggest biggest service issue. DigitalMR's study monitored eight U.K. banks - Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS, Santander, NatWest, Halifax and ING Direct - over the course of six months between July 1, 2010 and Dec. 23.

"The social media revolution means that banks should accept criticism and act upon it accordingly," said Michalis Michael, Managing Director of DigitalMR. "Managing online reputation is no longer enough, banks need to engage with social media influencers to improve service and gain competitive advantage."

Royal Bank of Scotland, which received a large bailout, was the most mentioned bank, according to DigitalMR's study. While it had 22 percent of all positive comments of all banks, it also accounted for 42 percent of all negative comments on the monitored banks. Lloyds TSB, which also received government money, was second-most mentioned in DigitalMR's monitoring, and received a greater proportion of negative comments than positive. All told, RBS and Lloyds received the lowest net sentiment scores.

ING Direct received the highest net sentiment score, scoring 71 percent positive remarks on monitored sites. In contrast, RBS received a negative 8 percent net sentiment score.

The top-10 features and services talked about among U.K. customers on the social web were, in order:

  • Customer care
  • Credit cards
  • Online banking
  • Loans
  • Savings accounts
  • Bank employees
  • Mortgage
  • Insurance
  • Interest rates
  • Account balances
  • All told, one in four comments were in relation to customer care, making it about twice as popular a subject as the one that came in second, credit cards.

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