The channels through which consumers express their opinions have expanded significantly over past few years. In 2013 alone, the credit card industry received 13,000 complaints and was fined $500 million.
The importance of operational excellence cannot be stressed enough in today’s regulatory environment, said Wells Fargo compliance officer Anna Osborn during the BAI Retail Delivery conference taking place this week in Chicago.
“Traditionally, there has been some allowance for an error rate,” Osborn says. “But today, the threshold for operational errors is dramatically lower.”
Osborn expects operational excellence will continue to evolve and focus on the value and delivery of products and services, centered on member experience.
Why Complaints Matter
So why focus on complaints? CreditUnions.com has written before about never letting a good one go to waste. Customer experience leaders have an obvious advantage over laggards when trying to persuade members to purchase more products, keep them from switching to another financial institution, and recommend the FI to others.
But it's not only about member experience. According to Osborn, there’s a good reason to acknowledge complaints from the regulatory compliance standpoint.
“Consumer complaints are central to how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) approaches its job,” she said.
In other words, the CFPB’s starting point is complaints data.
4 Ways To Make Complaints Work For You
Steven Ramirez, CEO of the customer experience consulting firm Beyond the ARC, says the CFPB established a formal system to aggregate social media posts about consumer complaints at the end of 2013. Financial institutions that have complaint policies and procedures in place can minimize their red flags.
Osborn and Ramirez recommended taking the following steps to promote operational excellence and leverage complaint data:
1. Funnel all requests through one person or team to manage expectations and ensure some level of control.
Sometimes regulators word similar questions differently to determine whether an organization's answers are consistent among departments or staffers. Credit unions with multiple people or teams answering questions can end up speaking over one another.
2. Monitor and review calls to spot potential risk.
The CFPB listens to calls, so record or monitor calls to assess whether the credit union is addressing members' needs and handling them professionally. Are employees talking too fast or too slow? How long does it take them to solve problems? Train and incentivize employees to deliver the best possible member experience.
3. Conduct the Voice of the Customer analysis.
The Voice of the Customer (VOC) program uses text analytics to structure unstructured data, which enables the credit union to quantify what members are saying and take action before issues emerge. VOC analysis should help prevent negative feedback from escalating or re-occurring.
4. Find and analyze complaint patterns on social media before members publicly file them with the CFPB.
Ramirez suggests financial institutions use social media as an “early warning system” for regulatory complaints. Members often try multiple times to resolve their problems either by contacting their financial institutions or by sharing their negative experience on social platforms. Pay attention to social media trends that emerge around the credit union to detect regulatory risks and address problems before the CFPB looks your way.