We are all aware that the FAIS Ombud is responsible for promoting consumer protection and fostering the integrity of the financial services industry by resolving complaints in a manner that is impartial, expeditious, economical, accessible and, at all times, equitable. Naresh Tulsie, FAIS Ombud, recently mentioned that the FAIS Ombud’s office has two goals. “The first is to sort out individual complaints. The second one is to share insights into those complaints; to help identify what’s going on with consumers and FSP’s to pre-vent those issues arising in the first place”, Tulsie mentions in the latest FAIS Ombud publication.
In an insightful article Tulsie specifically shares what FSPs should take away from these complaints; in essence to strengthen and rebuild relationships with a consumer base that, like the financial sector itself, has taken some hard knocks over the last decade. “If you want to restore trust, you need to do more than promise – you need to deliver”, Tulsie advises.
What is happening when consumers tell you that things are going wrong?
Many insights are formed from the complaints they receive at FAIS Ombud’s according to Tulsie. He mentions that consumers are forming opinions of you every time they deal with an FSP, and particularly when things go wrong. “Experiences of the last decade has created a lost generation of consumers. A generation of mistrust and missed opportunities, meaning that instead of focusing on growth and innovation, you now have to focus on repairing reputations”, he further stresses. Tulsie believes that FSPs has the power to stop this “cycle of scandal”. It’s all about matching consumer expectations.
What are the new expectations?
In the current South African economic state, money is tighter than ever. As a result, if consumers lose money when claims aren’t processed timeously, or when a claim was wrongly rejected because of poor advice or poor service rendered by an FSP, in not adhering to the FAIS Act and Code of Conduct requirements, they don’t take it easy. Tulsie also refers to the collapse in people’s trust in authority over the last decade. The advancement of technology also plays a role. “If you can send a payment around the world in 30 seconds, why does it take weeks or sometimes even months to sort out a complaint if things go wrong?”, he argues. Therefore the consumer of today can often be described as requiring instant gratification on their expectations.
How do FSPs meet these expectations?
In Tulsie’s view, the first thing that everyone needs to do is listen. In their view and experience listening and keeping all parties informed are key in resolving a matter. Statistics from the Ombud’s office reveals that 2/3 of complaints are dismissed and the balance of 1/3 decided in favour of the consumer. These statistics disclose that in most cases the Ombud agrees with the FSPs original decision. The complaint in many of these cases is about no or little communication with the consumer. “You actually need to be talking to your consumers, even when they are not in the right to explain to them why”, Tulsie advises.
How to view complaints?
According to the Ombud complaints should not be viewed in isolation. He compares the insights of complaints with general feedback from consumers, more than 10 000 of which they receive annually.
Honest dialogue and living up to ones promises are the starting point in earning trust, according to Tulsie. “Trusting your consumers enough to listen more deeply and insightfully, and using that insight to explore new opportunities to connect, learn and improve”, he recommends. Further, instead of approaching complaints in a defensive manner merely repeating the original decision or original treatment of the consumer, use this as an opportunity to honestly assess where it identifies room for improvement in your organisation.
In most cases one also needs to keep in mind what the costs of consumer retention are versus the acquisition costs of new consumers. “The FAIS Ombud’s Office can and does help in this respect. We provide financial services providers with another opportunity to rectify any shortcomings in engaging with the consumer and to retain such consumer”, the Ombud further recommends.
In the same way that the FAIS Ombud’s office has adopted the slogan “we hear you”, maybe it’s time for the FSP community to also focus more on listening.
Click here to read the original article as published in the FAIS Ombud publication.