By Babajide Komolafe
Incidences of poor quality service cannot be completely eliminated from any business offered by human beings. The most important thing, however, is to ensure there is an arrangement to reduce the occurrence of such incidences, and ensure that such incidences when they occur are resolved to the satisfaction of the victims of the service failures.
In the banking industry, all banks are mandated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to have such arrangement. This mandate was given via a circular issued August 16th 2011, titled, “Circular directing Deposit Money Banks to expand the existing ATM Help Desk to handle all Consumer Complaints and for Discount Houses and all other financial Institutions to establish a Consumer Complaint Help Desk”. In the circular, the CBN directed that: “All deposit money banks, discount house and other financial institutions establish e-mail addresses, dedicated to customers’ complaints handling;
Henceforth, customer complaints against banks, discount houses and other financial institutions must first be filed with the bank or other financial institutions for resolution. A copy of the complaints should be forwarded to the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation department of the CBN. Such complaints should be resolved within two weeks from the date of receipt (now30 days);
Any financial institution unable to resolve a customer’s complaint within the 14 days (now 30 days) time frame should forward such complaints, with evidence of action taken to the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation department immediately after the 14 days (now 30 days) deadline, and advise the complainant accordingly;
All financial institutions must submit monthly returns on all customer complaints received (whether resolved or not) to the CBN starting from 31st October, 2011. The monthly returns should be submitted to the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation department, CBN not later than five days after the end of each month; and financial institutions are required to report the number of complaints received during the period, number resolved, number not resolved; but referred to the CBN for intervention and total disputed amount in their approved Annual Reports and the published abridged financial statements”.
The directive above was in recognition by the CBN that incidences of poor services do occur in the banking industry, and also the need to protect customers from such poor services. According to the CBN, “We have observed, with concern, the significant increase in the number of complaints the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) receives from customers of financial institutions especially deposit money banks’ customers on various banking products and services. To this end, it has become necessary for banks and other financial institutions to adopt appropriate and effective mechanisms to address customers’ grievances reduce spate of customer complaints, enhance public confidence and customer satisfaction.”
The implication of the above is that the bank customer or prospective bank customer is assured of an authorized arrangement to complain against poor services, and get reprieve. For example, between March 2010 and May 2014, the CBN received 4, 141 petitions/complaints against poor services, which were resolved and resulted to refund of N14.69 billion, and $1.1million. Note that the customers would not have gotten such refund if they had not complained or if there was no arrangement/directive put in place by the authorities to ensure that their complaints were received and resolved.