Without the ability to properly and effectively manage customer complaints, banks and credit unions put customer retention at risk, a direct factor in bottom line profitability. Furthermore, bank complaints and credit union complaints are closely watched by regulators meaning that more complaints means more scrutiny from regulatory agencies. So, while customer complaints are not a positive sign for banks and credit unions, they do offer great opportunity for learning and improvement.

With the right systems in place and a solid strategy around complaint management, banks and credit unions can tackle complaints successfully, decreasing complaint volume and retaining customers that may have otherwise gone elsewhere. According to Navigant, “1 in 3 customers will stop doing business with you if you do not resolve their complaints.”

If you work at a bank or credit union and need to implement a better complaint management strategy, use these 10 tips to get started.

1. Invest in a robust complaint management software

In order to effectively manage consumer complaints, it is imperative for banks and credit unions to invest in a robust complaint management system that can manage large amounts of data. Not only will a strong complaint management system help you document, track, manage and respond to customer complaints, but it will decrease potential regulatory violations and ensure your institution stays in compliance with regulatory agencies.

2. Centralize and log all complaints

Once your bank has a strong complaint management software system in place, centralizing and logging all complaints becomes possible. And that’s important because with multiple branches and digital communication channels, consumers have an array of avenues by which to log complaints. Without a centralized complaint management system, this omni-channel reporting can result in a delay in response time and complaints falling through the cracks, plus it can make it extremely difficult to perform a comprehensive analysis on the customer data to improve service in the future.

3. Make it easy for customers to file complaints

Filing complaints shouldn’t be difficult for consumers. If they are already unhappy with a service or product the last thing you want to do is make them jump through hoops and wait on hold or navigate frustrating automated call systems to make their complaint heard. By offering a direct email address that customers can use to file complaints or offering a live chat option banks and credit unions can make the complaint process much smoother for customers.

An example from a credit union of a form for customers to submit a complaint or question

4. Keep an eye on social media

In order to proactively manage complaints including informal complaints, banks and credit unions need to be present and active on social media. According to a PWC report, “The use of social media is expanding exponentially. When customers’ issues are not quickly resolved to their complete satisfaction, they are quick to broadcast their frustration using social media.” What’s more, “90% of consumers trust peer recommendations posted on social media sites,” which means if these informal complaints are not mitigated, the potential for an institution’s reputational damage is huge.

Screenshots of social media posts to and from Capital One asking for support

Not only is responding to negative comments important, but acknowledging the positive comments can go a long way as well.

5. Respond to customer complaints immediately

Quickly responding to customer complaints and comments is important in today’s fast paced world. A slow response increases the chances that a customer will resort to social media, where they can publicize the issue on a broader scale. As Chris Nichols, chief strategy officer for Florida-based Center State bank said in a Forbes article, “By being proactive, particularly in social [media], we find that we can efficiently solve legitimate issues and prove our commitment to the customer’s happiness.”

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6. Mandate standard and consistent employee training for all customer service employees

Thorough and regular bank employee training is essential for a smooth complaint resolution process. Employees should be trained on how to handle complaints and the importance of complaint handling. It is wise to hold trainings on a regular basis, every 6 months or so, in order to provide a refresh for employees and disseminate any updates or lessons learned over the past many months and from the complaint analytics. Not only does regular employee training create a better complaint resolution experience for customers but it helps to ensure the institution is staying in compliance with consumer protection laws and regulations.

a conference room of people doing training

7. Make comprehensive policies and procedures easy to find

Along with employee training your bank or credit union should draft clear and comprehensive policies and procedures for complaint handling. And not only that, but they need to be easy to find and navigate. Some of the best complaint management software systems include content management as well, making it easy to centralize policies and procedures that can be quickly found by employees.

8. Answer customer questions before they ask them

an example of banking frequently asked questions

Anticipating customer questions might sound hard at first, but with a robust credit union Customer Self-Service solution you can easily predict what your customer is interested in and what questions they may have based on their online user behavior. By offering answers to questions, immediately, banks and credit unions offer customers a much better experience and allow them to find the answers they need without having to visit a branch or call customer service, which in return reduces complaints.

9. Analyze the data

banks and credit unions using big data and analytics reports

The ability to conduct regular analysis and reporting is one of the greatest benefits of a robust complaint management system. By analyzing the data you can look for trends in the types of complaints that are being reported and take action to fix or improve these areas.

10. Be empathetic

At the end of the day, being empathetic to customer needs and complaints is key. Banks and credit unions need to make their customers feel that they are being heard and understood. Empathy and understanding can go a long way in mitigating the escalation of a complaint and the loss of a customer.

At Engageware, we help banks and credit unions manage complaints, improve customer service and proactively answer customer questions all through our Customer Self-Service solution.

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