THE decision by Australia's major banks to lift mortgage rates when the Reserve Bank left official rates steady has come back to haunt them, with customer satisfaction levels falling last month.
And in what could make things interesting when rates rise, the first bank to move can expect to get hit the hardest.
Satisfaction with the big banks declined in February to 79.3 per cent, down from 79.6 per cent in January, after the RBA decided to keep rates on hold last month.
ANZ's home-loan customers recorded the biggest fall in satisfaction, according to figures from Roy Morgan Research.
"It appears that the first bank to make an upward movement in their home-loan rate suffers the greatest negative impact on customer satisfaction because of the widespread adverse publicity it attracts," Roy Morgan director Norman Morris said.
The fall came despite ANZ's rate increase being the lowest of the big four.
NAB, which gained the top position in customer satisfaction late last year, continues to lead the majors, with a 78.7 per cent approval rate. However, NAB suffered the biggest fall generally in satisfaction levels among the major banks, falling 0.8 percentage points during February, largely due to business customers.
It was followed by ANZ, on 77.9 per cent, which was off 0.7 percentage points. Westpac suffered a 0.5 percentage-point hit after pushing through one of the biggest mortgage rate rises. Commonwealth Bank's satisfaction rating of 77.3 per cent was off slightly.
The customers of Australia's smaller banks recorded greater satisfaction, with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, on 89.8 per cent, outpacing its bigger rivals.