• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024
Bank complaints: 1 crore complaints to banks every year: Know what RBI panel recommends
It will be a familiar experience for a customer to run circles on the phone while trying to complain to the bank, dialing number after number while being directed by an automated voice, but never speaking to an executive – because you can’t find out which number. To press for it. This may soon change as a panel set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recommended several measures to improve customer experience at banks and similar regulated entities (REs) under the RBI.

Around one crore consumers complain to their banks and other REs every year and this number has not changed much in the last three years. This is the finding of the Customer Service Standards Review Committee in RBI Regulated Entities formed by the RBI last year. While reviewing these complaints, the panel made several recommendations to improve the customer experience, including when complaints are lodged. Below are some suggestions made by the panel:

Fraudulent Transactions
Reporting fraud to banks can be a complicated process, and many consumers may not be fully aware of the process and criteria. To make it easier for consumers, the panel suggests that an online facility be made available on the Indian Cybercrime Reporting Portal for public to register complaints regarding fraudulent transactions.

The complaint should trigger an automated alert mail from the victim’s bank to the beneficiary bank/card issuer/merchants to stop the flow of money. The equivalent amount should be immediately blocked in the beneficiary’s bank account pending completion of detailed verification of the transaction reported in the complaint.

In case of traders, sale/dispatch of goods should be stopped. All these can be implemented as STP to the extent possible. STP, or direct processing, means an end-to-end automated process without manual intervention.

Streamlining call centers
REs call center may be designed with a dedicated IVRS flow, sharing important ‘do’s and don’ts’ with the customer, including provision of in-house financial advisors for complex inquiries or complex customers, based on customer profile/queries. , oanel recommends. An automated call-back feature in the call center should be provided when a call is abandoned. The option to speak to a customer care executive should be part of every menu option, so you don’t keep pressing buttons trying to figure out which one to press to speak to an executive.

A public grievance portal
Another valuable suggestion is to create a public complaint portal so that the customer does not have to complain to the RE with complaints.

The panel proposes a RE-agnostic common portal to be set up by the RBI for registering complaints so that customers of any RE can submit complaints on a single platform. The portal can allocate complaints to concerned REs and enable complainant to track complaints and automatically escalate rejected complaints to IOs. Going forward, RBI may also consider integrating this platform with its Complaint Management System portal for seamless exchange and movement of complaints and data.

Until the common grievance portal comes up, REs should have a mechanism to enable the complainant to track the progress of the complaint processing. The complainant should be regularly informed of the expected time for resolution of the complaint. If the time limit for disposal is exceeded, the complainant should be notified stating the reasons for the delay.

When a complaint is not treated as a complaint
Analyzing consumer complaints against REs, the panel found that there was no uniformity among REs in categorizing complaints. Some REs treat many complaints as suggestions/questions, which probably makes the RE’s job easier because a suggestion or question does not require such. Also, it helps in reducing the number of complaints. As there are fewer complaints, a bank is considered more efficient.

The Panel felt that the absence of a uniform definition of grievances under the Internal Grievance Redress (IGR) system, unlike that under the Reserve Bank – Integrated Ombudsman Scheme (RB-IOS), could lead to such divergences. RBI should provide a definition of what constitutes a complaint against RE under IGR so that a true picture of volume, types and nature of complaints and state of customer service in REs emerges.

An indicative definition could be: “As defined in RB-IOS, any reference received formally through electronic or paper mode flags a “deficiency in service” relating to all activities undertaken by the RE and services offered by it.

Making the internal ombudsman more independent
If an internal ombudsman draws salary from the RE to whom it is appointed, it creates a conflict of interest. To address this conflict of interest and to enhance the effectiveness of internal ombudsmen appointed in REs, RBI may direct the Indian Banks Association (IBA) to create a fund for direct payment of salary/compensation to Indian ombudsmen. Banks, panel recommends.

The respective self-regulatory bodies can create similar funds for other categories of REs. Alternatively, the Reserve Bank itself may consider creating the fund. The cost of the aforesaid fund, thus created, is recoverable from the REs in proportion to the complaints referred to the internal ombudsmen.

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