Outcome Six: After Sales Service
The final outcome requires that clients do not face unreasonable post-sale barriers to change product, switch provider, submit a claim or make a complaint.
The word “unreasonable” is extremely important in this outcome, as is “fairly” in the broader expectation of how clients should be treated. You are not expected to drop everything else every time you receive an enquiry and bend over backwards to resolve the issue.
Perhaps the old yardstick of doing unto others as you want done unto yourself is a more appropriate approach.
We have seen some practical examples in the past which necessitated the introduction of this guideline.
In the investment market, clients who wished to switch conventional retirement annuities to unit linked ones were subjected to endless forms and questionnaires aimed at dissuading them from moving their funds. There also appeared to be “unreasonable” delays in transferring the funds to the new provider. Apart from following up regularly, there is little the advisor can do in this regard.
The Short-term Ombud’s website contains examples of cases where it intervened in rejected claims where it felt that the insurer was using red tape to avoid what the Ombud regarded as a valid claim.
While a lot of the onus is on product providers in this regard, you as the advisor need to ask yourself the following questions, according to the FSB’s guidelines:
- When you provide after-sales services, is it easy for clients to contact you for assistance? It obviously does not end there – you need to do what is required, with the accompanying paper trail as proof, if required.
- Do you make it a priority to assist clients who have complaints? Your complaints resolution documentation is the key here to ensure that you comply with this requirement, and have the documentary proof.
- Do you help clients when they contact product suppliers for any service after contracting? Normally, clients work through their advisors. It is difficult to see how you can assist if you are unaware of the client’s enquiry. In instances like this, it would normally only land in your lap if the product provider includes you in the correspondence or the client contacts you after being unable to resolve the issue with the provider.
We pointed out the precarious position an advisor often finds him- or herself in when having to confront a provider about unsatisfactory service. Assisting your client in approaching the various industry Ombuds may help resolve this issue, and provide proof that you acted in a reasonable manner.
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