How well are banks set up to deal with complaints?
There have been days of disruption to TSB’s services after a planned migration to a new IT system went wrong. The new system was unable to handle the volume of users, and many customers were unable to check their accounts or monitor payments. The incident follows other serious problems at UK banks which are often working with outdated and complex infrastructures built up over years.
What about the TSB customers who have been unable to pay bills? James Walker, founder of Resolver, a free tool to help consumers raise and resolve issues, suggests that customers that have experienced missed mortgage or credit payments keep details of the attempted payments, the date, any charges incurred and include that information as part of their complaint. Walker suggests for customers who may experience any “knock on” consequences of not being able to pay out-going bills, that they complain and put in a claim for any losses, and that TSB provides confirmation in writing that the payment failed as a result of error as proof for your credit files.
Resolver monitors and tracks the flow of complaints to banks and other organisations, for example for TSB:
Tuesday 24 April 2018
6.00am - The patience of TSB customers is now very much fading as complaints about online service availability and login issues begin to increase further and also we see the first complaint raised about concerns of potentially fraudulent transactions.
15.00pm - The first complaint arrives about excessive wait times when contacting TSB by phone.
19.00pm - TSB customers are now getting home from work and using their evenings to submit complaints. By the end of Tuesday evening, Resolver has seen the complaints raised twenty-fold compared to the few ‘early warning’ complaints raised on the Sunday.
A quick scan of the FCA website shows that banks and building societies are very experienced in handling complaints. They receive hundreds of thousands of complaints each year and not so many are related to PPI these days.
In our experience of analysing complaints in financial services, we see that typically:
- Roughly 30% relate to human error (e.g. the wrong form was given, the amount debited was wrong)
- About 20% relates to policy (e.g. charges)
- A further 20% involves procedures not being followed correctly (e.g. a process failure)
- Up to 20% is about employees lack of knowledge or attitudes.
So, IT fiasco or not, complaints are not going to go away.
What does market research say about complaint channels?
Davies Hickman completed the research report, The Digital Customer 2017 — Chat, tap, talk: eight key trends to transform your digital customer experience, based on a global survey of 5,000 people for BT and Cisco. The research showed only 14% rated global banks digital experience as excellent. When it came to making complaints, the range of digital channels used by consumers has fragmented hugely over the past few years.
The research asked which of the following is your preferred method of making a complaint? (First choice)
Social media 7%
Smartphone App 4%
Smartphone browser 4%
Tablet browser 3%
How good is a bank's customer experience for complaints?
How well are banks and building societies set up to deal with complaints from this range of channels? TSB had warned customers in advance that online and mobile banking would be unavailable last weekend as it migrated 5m customers from a banking platform run by previous owner Lloyds to its own system. But it soon became apparent that this migration was in trouble, with customers taking to social media to complain. Customers were experiencing problems accessing their accounts, and long waiting times over the phone as they called TSB’s customer services line. In short, were they ready to listen to their customers? Listening is the first part of dealing with a complaint.
To be fair to TSB, this won’t be the last time a major IT migration goes wrong in a financial services provider. But banks and building societies need to ensure their complaint channels are set up to deal with both one-off crisis situations as well as for the hundreds of thousands of complaints that are part of everyday business. A large part of this is being ready for a large volume of complaints.
Jo Davies is a Director of Davies Hickman Partners.
Jo Davies, Director, Davies Hickman Partners. Davies Hickman is a market research company. Jo is a member of the BSI committee for Customer Service, ISO committee for Contact Centres and a guest judge for the Institute of Customer Service Awards.