Consumer confidence towards retail banking in Saudi Arabia has improved over the last year, but financial institutions score poorly in customer service, product offerings and digital experience, a new index showed.

The KSA Banking Sentiment Index by PwC Middle East and DataEQ, which analysed consumer reviews, including complaints and discussions online, cited that financial institutions in Saudi Arabia continue to attract negative feedback, especially around customer service, credit cards, transaction delays and system glitches, among others.

The index tracked more than five million posts on X (formerly Twitter) pertaining to seven major retail banks, including Al Rajhi Bank, Alinma Bank, Al Bilad Bank, Riyad Bank, Saudi National Bank, Saudi Awwal Bank and Banque Saudi Fransi.

The posts were processed using Crowd and AI technology to reach the “net sentiment” of customers towards an organisation.

Overall, Saudi’s banking industry earned an 11.3 percentage point increase in net sentiment compared to 2022, which can be largely attributed to a 9.1 percentage point increase in reputational net sentiment.

The improvement in reputational net sentiment is thanks to the banks’ CSI initiatives, flourishing financial performances and improved customer experience (CX). However, customer service and turnaround times were commonly cited as major “pain points”, the study said.

Customer service, products

Among the topics raised in social media discussions, customer service emerged as the dominant subject, displaying a low net sentiment of -82.1%.

“This indicated a need for improvement across all banks, mainly due to extended resolution times for consumer issues,” the report said.

Product offerings were the next significant subject, recording a net sentiment of -37.4%, driven by negative feedback on debit cards and similar products, with customers citing transactional problems and delays in card issuance.

In terms of digital experience, banks also drew negative feedback, generally attributed to system outages and app downtime, which have left consumers unable to complete transactions. Overall net sentiment for digital experience stood at -81.1%.


One of the major issues that came up in many customer conversations is a bank’s reputation.

According to the index, this indicator showcased a positive net sentiment, thanks to the community programmes, education and environmental initiatives that institutions have introduced to engage their customers. Banks also gained positive reviews for promoting fraud awareness and customer vigilance on social media.

“This index not only highlights the challenges facing the Saudi banking industry, but also outlines clear opportunities for transformation,” said Melanie Malherbe, Managing Director at DataEQ.

“Banks must not only maintain their good reputation, but also strive for continued operational improvements to ensure a holistic, customer-centric banking experience.”

 (Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)