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10 November 2020

Assessing the impact of Covid-19 on South African banks

Pandemic relief progammes frustrate customers finds Banking Sentiment Index

Covid-19 has placed immense pressure on South African consumers and banks. Consumers have had to make significant adjustments to their personal finances and the way they interact with their banks. The banks have faced new pressures to formulate and deliver Covid-relief measures and adjust to a rapid increase in customers adopting, and seeking assistance on, digital channels.

The conversation about Covid-19 has the most negative impact on FNB

Impact of Covid-19 conversation on Net Sentiment

The conversation about Covid-19 had the most significant impact on FNB, dropping its Net Sentiment by 1.3 percentage points. TymeBank benefited from Covid-19 conversation as the digital bank faced fewer challenges due to a smaller client base.

Relief programmes frustrate customers

Consumers weighed up which bank contributed the most in terms of relief options, including payment holidays, loans, and social responsibility efforts.

Despite receiving early praise from customers for their initial commitment to help South Africans, the banks’ Net Sentiment quickly declined as the logistics of rolling out the relief programmes drew significant complaints.

Net Sentiment towards Covid-19 relief programmes

Sentiment towards relief programmes rallied in June as the initial issues in the process apparent in May seemed to have been resolved. This brief boost in positivity was short-lived and was not sustained through to July and August.

Example mentions about covid relief mesaures

Increase in demand for social customer service

As a result of the lockdown regulations and social distancing, banks saw an increased demand for online customer service. The marked increase in service-related mentions during the pandemic highlights the growing significance of social media as a channel of contact between banks and customers. Consumers referred specifically to the banks’ digital services and contact centres’ ability to deal with the increase in service requests.

Monthly response rate and priority connversation for banks

BrandsEye’s assessment of priority conversation (that which requires a response from the banks) increased steadily once lockdown came into effect. Conversely, the banks’ response rates across the industry dipped as lockdown began.

Example mentions about customer service

Relief programme rollouts lead to poor customer service

The quick turnaround time necessary in banks’ implementation of relief programmes was likely a root cause of confusion among staff and customers. Service was heavily criticised in customer conversation about relief programmes. This is apparent in the prevalence of the following conversation topics: no response received, multiple contacts, and advice given by a brand representative.

Most common themes mentioned by consumres in Covid-19 converastion

Long wait times were a key complaint area. Under the poor economic circumstances, it was most likely that cashflow protection measures offered by banks were time-sensitive to customers under financial stress. As a result, there was significant pressure on banks to deliver quick turnaround times.

Example mentions about Covid-19 relief programmes

To access the full 2020 South African Banking Index please complete the form on this page

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