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RBC knocks TD Bank out of top spot for customer service

A Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) sign is seen outside of a branch in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie - RTX2EC7Q

The Royal Bank of Canada has ended TD's 10-year reign as the best bank for customer service in Canada, according to the latest J.D. Power study.

J.D. Power ranks the banks on a 1000-point scale, judging them on products, self-service, personal service, facilities, financial advisors and problem resolution. Last year, the Big 5 banks averaged 737 overall and are up to 760 this year.

RBC squeaked into first with an overall satisfaction rating of 765, eking out TD Canada Trust who received a rating of 761. It remains a tight race between all five banks, however: only 12 points separate RBC from fifth-place Scotiabank. Bank of Montreal received a rating of 760, CIBC received a 754, and Bank of Nova Scotia received a 753.

The difference between large and mid-size banks, however, is significant. Tangerine, who is owned by but operates independently from Scotiabank, ranked highest in customer satisfaction with a score of 840; President's Choice Financial ranked second with a score of 789.

Last year's satisfaction ratings fell across all of the Big 5 banks, according to the J.D. Power study, due largely to the introduction of changes to fees.

"The improvements indicate that customers are becoming less sensitive to new pricing structures, which caused satisfaction to tumble in 2015," said Paul McAdam, senior director of banking services at J.D. Power, in a press release. "The banks are doing a better job communicating with their customers, who are now seeing the value they are getting in return for higher fees."

Going mobile

Customers who used mobile banking services were found to be more satisfied than their counterparts who don't. 34 per cent of respondents said they used mobile banking in 2016, up from 27 per cent last year.

"Self-service makes banking more convenient for customers, with mobile technology being a key element of self-service," said McAdam. "Despite the growing number of digital channel interactions, there is more that banks can do to drive customers to self-service channels for routing transactions, which make it easier for the customer and more cost-effective for the bank."

RBC says that mobile has become a core part of its strategy, and attributes at least partially its efforts in that space to the win.

"This recognition speaks to our commitment to clients and our ongoing efforts to put them first," said Jennifer Tory, Group Head, Personal and Commercial Banking, in a press release. "As our clients' lives and routines change, we are continually working on ways to provide exemplary service and to make everyday banking easier, whether it's in our branches or local community, on the phone or through online or mobile. Acknowledgement like this tells us we're on the right track."