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Customers reveal UK businesses with ‘best’ bereavement customer service

  • Nationwide, Lloyds, Santander among best companies
  • Aviva comes out top among insurers
  • Call for UK Bereavement Commission to recommend improved customer service training and one-stop-shops


Bereaved customers have revealed the UK organisations which they believe deliver some of the best bereavement customer service, in the results of a new survey.

It comes as the long-awaited report by the UK Commission on Bereavement is due, within the next fortnight, into how bereaved people can be better supported.

Some of the biggest names in British business have been accused in recent weeks of making life a misery for grieving families.

Now, in a survey conducted online by free nationwide bereavement admin service,  Settld, some of the best bereavement customer service is also revealed.

More than 2,000 people completed the survey over the two months, following a tirade on Twitter by the well-known writer and journalist George Monbiot.

Monbiot’s family faced a lengthy battle to close a Vodafone account following the recent death of his mother.

The survey shows that Nationwide, Lloyds, Santander, and the government’s Tell Us Once service are highlighted as some of the organisations who come out on top.

Vicky Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Settld, said: “While much of the time the criticism falls at the door of those businesses who fail to treat bereaved customers well, credit is also due to those companies who have good processes and handle account closures and transfers well.

“We’d like to see more companies delivering first class bereavement customer service, like Nationwide and Lloyds, which stand out in our survey results.”

Janet Chapman, Managing Director – Moments that Matter at Nationwide Building Society, said: “Dealing with the death of a loved one is always really difficult and, quite often, the last thing on people’s minds is the need to deal with financial matters.

“As a mutual, we are focused on supporting our members and aim to always make everything easy and as simple as possible for people during those challenging periods.

“That is why we ensure we stop any communications when we’re notified that a member has passed away. We also have a dedicated team which manages deceased members’ accounts from the time we are notified through to closing the accounts, which includes a dedicated phoneline to support with any queries throughout the process.

“We also provide contact information for various trusted organisations that can provide further emotional support throughout the journey.”

The banking sector received the highest levels of feedback overall in the online survey, which attracted 2,249 responses.

Of all those who mentioned a bank favourably, the most quoted was Lloyds (15%). Key reasons were down to their speed in account resolution, the empathy of their staff, and their dedicated bereavement channels.

Nationwide followed with 9.2% of all positive banking experiences, with particular emphasis placed on their ‘what to do when someone dies’ information booklet.

The Insurance sector was commended more than criticised – 14% of people had good things to say about insurers, vs 6% who did not. Aviva fared best of all insurers, called out for being kind, understanding and returning calls when they said they would. “Brilliant. Just brilliant”, said one survey response.

Of those companies who were referenced and did not fare well, the key reasons were: a lack of perceived empathy, length of time taken to action the accounts, and overly complicated paperwork and processes.

The best companies offered dedicated bereavement channels, staff who “genuinely seemed to care” and clearly communicated processes and ETAs.

Vicky Wilson also co-founded the Bereavement Standard campaign which calls for better treatment of bereaved customers and received cross-party backing in parliament.

She added: “Many service providers say that they prioritise bereaved and vulnerable customers, but in reality a worrying number of them still do the minimum necessary to offer support.

“We strongly hope the Bereavement Commission’s delayed, and long-awaited report, highlights the importance of good bereavement training, and one stop shops like Settld to reduce vulnerability.

”Settld is working closely with those who want to improve their customer experience, because bereaved and vulnerable customers deserve better bereavement standards.. Our real hope is that those organisations which are investing in and improving their service will encourage more competitors to follow suit.”

Headquartered in Sunderland, Settld enables members of the public to notify all service providers of a death, from banks and insurers to energy firms, mobile providers, subscription services, social media platforms and others.

Settld’s online service is free to the public. Users can close, transfer or amend accounts and obtain date of death balances for probate.

Settld – at www.settld.care – consistently receives 5-star reviews from customers.