Capital One, American Express and Royal Bank of Canada received high marks Thursday for customer satisfaction, design and navigability among major bank and card apps, according to J.D. Power's annual analysis.

With a score of 888 on a 1,000-point scale, Capital One scored best for customer satisfaction among banking apps, followed closely by BB&T, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

American Express, meanwhile, had the highest ranked credit card app, with a score of 894. It saw a 31-point increase in customer satisfaction this year.

“We have spent a lot of time evaluating how our card members use our app,” said Raffaelle Breaks, vice president, enterprise digital member experience for American Express. “We’ve tested and validated new approaches and techniques with our card members’ preferences and needs in mind, which led to changes across all aspects of the experience. The transformation of the app is also a result of the hard work and collaboration of our design, product, analytics and engineering teams — this recognition is great validation of a large team effort.”

J.D. Power app rankings Capitol One

In early 2018, the company relaunched its mobile app with a new design and expanded and refined its technical architecture, which is now built on a single code base for all markets.

“This allows us to more quickly respond to user feedback and more efficiently activate new features,” Breaks said.

American Express’ app also won recognition for ease of navigation. According to Stewart Kendall, vice president, mobile product and design, this is because the company streamlined and redesigned navigation.

“As part of our redesign process, we examined data on how each approach was performing and, of course, validated each design approach with our card members,” Kendall said.

For instance, the company made it easier for members with several cards to see each card account individually and navigate between card accounts.

“Creating this experience took a high degree of effort and testing, and I think it shows in the experience: intuitive and simple,” he said.

The company also launched a new global brand identity, with a standard palette and a new logo.

“The result of this is a fresher look and feel to the product itself,” Kendall said. “We also began development of a design language with a comprehensive framework that we’ll use to continue to drive consistency in the customer experience across platforms, as well as achieve a native ‘look and feel’ on the iOS and Android platforms.”

One surprising finding of this year’s study was that all Canadian banking apps dropped in customer satisfaction by 11%.

Rami Thabet, vice president of mobile and digital money management at RBC, said this is because Canadians have raised their expectations and demands for mobile banking.

RBC performed particularly well in three categories of the J.D. Power study: experience, appearance and availability and clarity of information. According to Thabet, the bank released 22 new mobile app capabilities to clients in 2017.

“We use a set of methodologies that follow industry best practices, as well as our own set of RBC developed approaches that led to the tailored design of the RBC mobile app,” Thabet said. “Our approach includes user testing, client pilots, verification activities and extensive user feedback, including AB testing.”

The J.D. Power study found that overall, 43% of customers used their bank’s mobile app in the last three months and nearly a third of retail banking customers have only interacted with their bank through digital channels in the past three months.