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Third Party Thursday

February 8, 2018

Consumer Complaints and Vendor Management

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Learn how a well-run complaint management system can take an upset customer and turn them into your best customer, why a consumer complaint system is absolutely necessary and five elements to include in your vendor management policy on complaint management.

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Podcast Transcript

chief risk officer branan cooperWelcome to today’s Third Party Thursday! My name is Branan Cooper and I’m the Chief Risk Officer here at Venminder. Today we are going to talk about complaint management.

Customers will complain; so you must have a good response management system. I’d like to think I’ve seen some pretty good practices around complaint management. At MBNA America, we had an entire department devoted to answering complaints and making sure we spoke in a consistent voice and always put the customer first, to refer to one of their many great sayings.

Since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was formed, consumer complaint management has been job one - whether it’s their massive database of complaint information or their monthly analytical reports on complaints, they’ve had a huge focus on complaints.

Your institution should have its antennae up and searching for signals in all directions. You should have a well-written policy on complaint management. It should clearly identify who is responsible for tracking and answering complaints.

The policy should:

  1. Require a highly professional response
  2. Establish timeframes for resolution
  3. Assign accountability
  4. In certain circumstances, particularly if the complaint came to you through your prudential regulator or an attorney general, you should ensure that your response both acknowledges your commitment to resolving it and clearly articulates how you are addressing it (helpful hint, it’s a best practice to have the response read and approved by your legal counsel)
  5. More importantly, you should also do a root cause analysis to determined what happened in the first place and how you can prevent it from happening again

Isolated complaints are one thing, or they could be a leading indicator of a much larger issue… is it in an ice cube or an iceberg? In today’s era of social media and with the CFPB actively tracking complaints, anyone has an easy outlet to say nearly anything. You must find ways to make sure you’re on top of it – besides the policy, you should actively monitor social media, looking for anything that may be a concern.

Should you find it, please invite the customer to contact you through normal customer service means – never discuss confidential information or add fuel to the fire on social media. You should also require all of your vendors who have even the most remote contact with your members to promptly disclose, track or directly refer complaints to you.

A well-run complaint management system can take an upset customer and turn them into your best customer. Again, I’m Branan and thank you for tuning in! Don’t forget to subscribe to the Third Party Thursday series.

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