KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday directed all banks to improve their grievances handling mechanism, making it accessible and convenient for people to lodge complaints, track progress and get quick and efficient remedy.
The federal banking ombudsman earlier in a quarterly report had mentioned that over 135 per cent more complaints had been received in the first quarter of 2021 as compared to the first three months of last year.
However, the SBP directions were based on its findings of the review and the role of complaints in improvising banking services.
In order to make complaints registration easier and accessible, the SBP prescribed mandatory modes to banks for lodging complaints with a direction to ensure their availability and accessibility at all times. The modes include call centres, emails, e-forms, surface mail, fax and complaint boxes and registers. Besides, banks were advised to invest in innovative modes of complaints registration like receiving complaints through SMS/call back service, mobile applications, self-service kiosks and other social media platforms, said the SBP.
Mandatory mode for lodging complaints prescribed
Such investment would not only boost convenience for customers but would also help banks capture and handle complaints in a better way. “Banks have also been advised to send awareness SMS messages at least on a bi-annual basis to create adequate awareness regarding the complaint lodgment modes deployed,” said the SBP.
The SBP said it was in continuous pursuit of strengthening the consumer protection regime and market conduct of the industry. It is focusing on improvement in grievance handling mechanisms at banks, microfinance banks (MFBs) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) with the aim to provide affordable, accessible, fair, accountable, and efficient grievance redressal.
“For this purpose, various measures have been taken by the SBP to enhance responsible complaint handling by the banks, as they handle more than 97 per cent of complaints related to the banking industry in a year,” the SBP stated.
Recently, the SBP had conducted a detailed review of complaint handling practices at banks, primarily focusing on ‘ease of lodgment’, and ‘quick and fair disposal’ of complaints.
Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2021