ISLAMABAD: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is in continuous pursuit of strengthening the industry’s consumer protection regime and market conduct. Amongst other efforts, SBP is focusing on improvement in grievance handling mechanisms at banks, microfinance banks (MFBs) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) (from now on referred to as banks) to provide more affordable, accessible, fair, accountable, and efficient grievance redressal. For this purpose, various measures have been taken by SBP to enhance responsible complaint handling by the banks as they handle more than 97 per cent of complaints related to the banking industry in a year. Recently, SBP conducted a detailed review of complaint handling practices at banks, focusing on ‘ease of lodgment’ and ‘quick and fair disposal’ of complaints.
Based on the review findings and the role of complaints in improvising banking services, SBP has directed the banks to enhance the grievance handling mechanism deployed at their end. To make complaint lodgement at banks easier and accessible, SBP has prescribed mandatory modes of complaint lodgement to banks to ensure their availability and accessibility at all times. These modes include call centres, emails, e-forms, surface mail, fax, and complaint boxes/registers. Additionally, the banks have also been encouraged to invest in innovative modes of complaint lodgement like receiving complaints through text message or call back service, mobile applications, self service kiosks and other social media platforms. Such investment will boost convenience for customers rather than help banks capture/handle complaints in a better way. Banks have also been advised to send awareness SMS messages at least on a bi-annual basis to create adequate awareness regarding the complaint lodgment modes deployed.
For better tracking of customer complaints, the provision of complaint tracking numbers in written form has been made mandatory. Similarly, particular focus has been laid on quick and meritorious disposals of complaints.
Further, SBP has also enhanced the reporting requirements on complaint handling in light of the international and local needs/trends. Besides, banks have been advised to provide adequate support to complaint handling function at banks in terms of human resources, information technology, training, etc.