By Babajide Komolafe
…As CIBN addresses customers complaints in banks
Banks have refunded N5.03 billion to customers in response to petitions against their services sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Meanwhile the CBN has begun to examine banks to monitor their compliance with the directive to establish Customer Complaints desk and e-mail addresses.
Also, in a bid to increase channels for customers’ complaints, the apex bank is to create customers help desks in all its branches nationwide. The bank has also commenced review of the Guide to Bank Charges with the purpose of enhancing flexibility, transparency, fair practices and competition in the banking industry.
A senior official of the newly created Consumer Protection Department of the CBN, Mr Ifeanyi Nwoha disclosed in this Lagos at an interactive session between the apex bank and industrial unions.
He said that between April 2nd when the department was created and April 30th 2012, the department had received about 3,645 complaints and have processed about 3,571 of them. Total claims of N8.59 billion were made by petitioners against deposit money banks within the period and about N5.03b and $201,375.40 have been refunded to consumers.”
She said that the department was created as part of the ongoing reforms in the financial sector. “The aim is to ensure that consumers receive appropriate protection with the CBN acting as the consumer’s advocate, setting standards of customer service for the industry and ensuring that customers are treated fairly in all their dealings with the industry.
“Hitherto, some consumer protection responsibilities were carried out by the Banking Supervision Department. The Bankers’ Committee also created the Sub-Committee on Ethics and Professionalism which was saddled with the responsibility of addressing disputes between consumers and providers of financial services. Additionally, the banks also received customer complaints which they were expected to resolve appropriately.
“It was observed, however, that these structures, aside their inability to properly address the avalanche of complaints from the consumers did not focus on other important aspects of consumer protection, such as consumer education, consumer complaint-index and policy formulation.
Nwoha said that the Management of the CBN has approved the creation of consumer helpdesks in all its branches nationwide and Head Office. The aim is to achieve automation of Consumer complaints processes .and enhance faster resolution of complaints.
The activities of the Helpdesk facility are expected to take off within the third quarter of 2012 and would be premised on a “Consumer Complaint web-enabled portal for financial consumers of banks and other Financial Institutions to submit petitions/complaints to the CBN on-line.
“The system would also provide an interface for banks and other financial institutions to make periodic returns to the CBN for its record and possible intervention. For example the CBN (through CFPD) and CPC had just released the 2nd Edition of Guide to Basic Banking Transactions to educate the current and potential banking public. ”
Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria is addressing various issues which pitch banks against their customers by organizing workshops on Complaints Management in three major cities of the country.
The programme tagged “Complaints Management in the Nigerian Banking Industry” has been organized in Ibadan and Owerri and is also scheduled for Abuja next week.
The programme, which is at the instance of the Sub-Committee on Ethics and Professionalism of the Bankers’ Committee, is aimed at instilling the culture of excellence in the management of consumer complaints in banks with a view to restoring banking public confidence as well as to forestall preventable risks and losses.
A team of highly experienced professionals were selected to address key strategic issues such as: Consumer Complaints Management in the Nigerian Banking Industry: An Overview; Best Practices in Managing Complaints and Challenges in the Nigerian Banking Environment; The Platinum Rule: Coping, Handling and Satisfying Difficult Customers; Framework for Complaints Management in Nigerian Banks: Practical Case Studies from the Sub-Committee on Ethics and Professionalism, among others.
The speakers include Mr. Emmanuel N. Nnorom, Chairman, Sub-Committee on Ethics and Professionalism and Executive Director, Risk and Non-Bank Subsidiaries, United Bank for Africa Plc; Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, Managing Director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation; Mr. Umar Faruk Shehu, Director, Consumer and Financial Protection Department, Central Bank of Nigeria; Mrs. Ifeyinwa Umenyi, Director General, Consumer Protection Council (CPC); Mr. Onyema Okoroh, Management Consultant, Nican-USA Limited; Rev. G. A. Olusemore, FCIB, Chief Consultant, Nesbet Consulting Ltd; Mr. Alex Anameje, HCIB, Former Deputy Director, CIBN; among others.