ABA Banking Journal - September 2009 - (Page 42)
Compliance Clinic When customers complain, banks must get the message Think of customer complaints as an early warning system. Unheeded, they will morph into tomorrow’s regulations. And tomorrow can come right quick I t is so easy to ignore a customer complaint. After all, customers make so many mistakes, isn’t their problem really their own fault? Why waste precious bank time fixing something the customer did wrong? But the truth is, customer complaints come in for many reasons. Some may be based on the customer’s mistake or misunderstanding, but even in that case, we should understand why that mistake or misunderstanding happened. Their mistake may be the result of confusing or incomplete information. Other complaints, based on our products, services, or communications, can tell us a great deal. It’s a coincidence, but a good reminder, nonetheless, that “complaint” and “compliant” differ by only the arrangement of two letters. quate response from their bank, they turn to the “heavies” to get a result. And when the heavies—regulators and Congress—get involved, things happen—like more regulatory burden. Compliance with new regulations is tedious and expensive. But it is too easy to blame consumers and Congress for generating unnecessary rules. Banks must realize that most regulatory burden is the result of specific practices that have frustrated or angered consumers. A voluntary self-diagnosis to complaints can prevent more regulatory burden by removing the need for legislative action. Voluntary responses can also increase customer loyalty. The rest of this article looks at how to accomplish both goals. Where complaints meet compliance At the moment, banks and other lenders are under heavy fire from consumers, Congress, and regulators. Consumers have been unhappy with many aspects of bank products and services. When consumers fail to get what they consider to be an adeBy Lucy Griffin, contributing editor, and president, Compliance Resources, Inc., Reston, Va., firstname.lastname@example.org 42 SEPTEMBER 2009/ABA BANKING JOURNAL See it coming. The past several years have seen heavy activity in new and revised regulations. These affect both deposits and loans. There have also been a significant number of guidances issued by the regulatory agencies. This legislative and regulatory activity has been generated in large part by consumer complaints. Since consumers usually try complaining first to their bank, banks are in a position to do something about it first— before Congress and the regulators step in. (See the box, opposite.) Trying to sit it out only results in more regulations. Banks always have an opportunity to see it coming. For example, consumers complained about unexpected fees when Subscribe at www.ababj.com
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