Posted: 13th May 2010

A lesson for our banks: how customer complaints can result in customer satisfaction

After reading  the  recent report by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) on poor complaint handling  by the UK’s top banks it is clear that the industry needs to start making changes in order to provide fair and efficient responses to complaints and increase customer satisfaction. As part of the service industry, where dealing with issues should be a top priority, it’s worrying that our top banks  are still providing such poor customer service.

When an issue has been raised, this is an ideal opportunity to engage directly with customers and make the necessary improvements to products or services. Many consumers will tell you that the way a complaint is handled is more important than the complaint itself. The FSA’s report cites a lack of staff knowledge and not informing customers of the outcome of their complaint as key reasons for poor levels of customer satisfaction. But I wonder whether many of the UK’s banks – and businesses in all industries for that matter – really have a robust complaints procedure in place?

Organisations must ensure that all staff can access up-to-date best practice guidelines for handling complaints through the use of shared knowledge and resources. Escalation procedures such as automatic alerts to senior staff when an issue is unresolved or is of a serious nature, will ensure that complaints are handled appropriately. And organisations must ALWAYS update customers of the outcome in order to ‘close the loop’ on each query. There is nothing worse for an organisation’s reputation than a customer who has complained and then isn’t happy with the response. Bad experiences always spread faster by word of mouth than good experiences. Complaints should be considered as opportunities to increase customer satisfaction, not as a threat.

As Marc Gander of the Consumer Action Group (CAG) says, ‘The entire attitude of the UK banking industry towards its customers’ needs to be overhauled’.

Do you agree? What is your complaint handling strategy?

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