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Suncorp named Money magazine's Bank of the Year

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A focus on company culture and customer experience has kept Suncorp on top of its game. It returns this year, claiming the same categories it won in 2018, Business Bank of the Year and the all-encompassing Bank of the Year.

Not that Suncorp has sat on its laurels. It's been a busy 12 months on many fronts as it launched a rewards program, a new system to help customers with financial hardship and a renewed focus on first home buyers.

"As an industry, and as a player in the industry, we are very much focused on the need to rebuilt trust and confidence," says David Carter, chief executive of banking and wealth at Suncorp.

Housing affordability is a big issue no matter what state you live in. New government measures and the latest rate cut have given would-be homeowners a fighting chance to buy their first property.

A focus on company culture and customer experience has kept Suncorp on top of its game, as it takes out the Bank of the Year award for 2019.

To help with this, Suncorp has one of the most web-friendly interfaces for property newbies. On the site, prospective customers can learn more about the bank's "no annual fee for the life of the loan" offer under Home Package Plus, a saving of at least $11,000 for a 30-year-loan, and features such as the Deposit KickStart and Low Deposit Option.

Carter says the company is looking at its pricing package and bundle offers that are attractive for the segment.

"We understand that the market is historically very, very low, and while the variable rate is a function of several factors, the ability to offer a good fixed rate is something that's a bit simpler," he says, adding that competitive fixed rates are going to be a strong point of difference for the bank.

A little more than a year ago, Suncorp embarked on an ambitious program to introduce a new rewards and recognition scheme for customers.

This was first aimed at Suncorp staff as part of the beta-testing phase before being rolled out to customers. According to the group's 2017-18 annual review, more than 400,000 customers have signed up to the loyalty scheme, which includes hotel and flight offers, discounts at retail stores, gift cards and cashbacks.

The bank was one of the early adopters of the digital wallet and beta-tested the use of Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay with its staff. Perhaps of biggest benefit to their mum-and-dad small business owners is the real-time payments system to authorise and process payments from web-based purchases.

Carter says Suncorp uses conventional metrics, such as the net promoter score (NPS), to assess customer satisfaction levels, but it uses non-conventional metrics, too.

He credits part of the bank's success to its "zero complaints" mindset.

"We've seen a reduction in complaints in the areas that we focus on. We measure that and talk to our team about it," says Carter.

Coming in second this year is Bendigo Bank, which also was quick to pass on rate cuts to consumers. ING moved up the league tables from 12th in 2018 to round out the top three.

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