What makes consumers complain?

By : Carol Hamilton

November 13, 2014 10:02 PM

Complaints are a headache for banks. They mean lost money in the form of resources and compensation, a worse brand image and customer attrition. As with any problem, however, there are positives to be taken from a complaint.

It lets you know what you’re doing badly and what you’re doing well as an organization. Taken together, the pattern of complaints can also let the industry know where it’s going and what it needs to improve on.

What are people complaining about?

It depends on the market, as specific situations may arise based on some regulatory change or when something has gone wrong. For instance, in the UK complaints are dominated by payment protection insurance, or PPI, which has cost the industry billions and is still rumbling on as historic claims of mis-selling are dealt with.

But in most places from a product perspective it’s the checking / current account that seems to matter most to consumers. Data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows these are the subject of 78 percent of all complaints filed in the US.

What makes people complain?

There are all sorts of things that make people complain. “Difficulties with opening, closing or managing accounts were the most frequently cited issues consumers had with banking, followed by problems with deposits and withdrawals,” the CFPB says in its report.

Complaints seem to be based around the banking experience - how easy it is to open an account, whether it can be managed efficiently and so on. Interestingly, they are not about the main things that make people switch banks, which tend to be checking account fees and fraud.

This suggests that banks need to operate a dual strategy; one around what makes people complain and another for what makes them leave. Complaints don’t necessarily lead to divorce, nor does separation have to be advertised beforehand. Banks cannot rely on complaints alone for figuring out what’s wrong.

Delivering a great customer experience will reduce complaints, but it may not reduce leakage. Ultimately that seems to come down to the products on offer; how much they cost and how safe they are.

Learn more about NCR Financial solutions.

Carol Hamilton

Branch Sales Specialist

Other articles by this author

Carol is a Branch Sales Specialist sales of NCR’s branch solutions for the UK and Republic of Ireland. She has 10 years’ experience in financial services within NCR and also with Tesco Bank in the UK. She is based in Dundee, Scotland.