In three years, findings have shown 5 Tier-1 banks has refunded customers a total sum of N36 Billion ( N36,030,416,012.27) which is in line with the guidelines of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the resolution of customers’ complaints.
The concerned 5 Tier-1 banks are Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, First Bank Limited, and UBA Plc.
The data collected from their respective financial statements also showed a progressive rise in the number of complaints received by the five banks within the period under review.
In, 2018 for instance, the total number of complaints received by the five Tier-1 banks has increased by 14.4% to 1,726,016.
For the 2019 operating year, the five banks received a total of 2,325,791 complaints, while 2,721,270 was the number of complaints received in 2020, bringing the total complaints received within three years to 6,773,076.
Within the period under review, the amount of money set aside for the setllement of customers’complaints by the five Tier-1 banks increased by four percent, rising from N6,257,474,043.53 in 2018 to N16,370,852,265.37 earmarked by the five-tier 1 banks in 2020.
Further analysis of the bank’s budget for complaints’ resolution showed that Access Bank Plc, which set aside N63,351,320 in 2018, earmarked N3,954,787,501 and N3,954,787,501 for 2019 and 2020 financial years, respectively.
Similarly, N326,328 was refunded to customers by GTBank Plc in 2018. The figure came down to N282,014 and N105,000 in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
In the case of UBA Plc, N403,877 was paid out as a refund to customers in 2018. In 2019 and 2020, the bank refunded its customers N22,699 and N3,725, respectively.
In 2018, Zenith Bank refunded its customers to the tune of N800,131,355 whereas it paid less in the following year as the figure came down to N421,465,468. However, the figure went up in 2020 when the bank paid N3,722,876,538 as a refund to its customers.
In this category, First Bank emerged as the bank with the highest budget for customers refund, as it disbursed N5,393,261,263.53; N9,025,438,907.37 and N9,397,751,386.37 for 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively.
READ ALSO: Telecom Subscribers Spend over N32.89 Billion on SMS, as Number of Sent SMS Rises by 29.4% in 2020
However, banking industry watchers described the frequency of customers refund as an indication of timely response of banks to their customers’ complaints although some argued that banks were merely paying for their inefficiency by setting aside a huge amount of money to settle customers since the need for refund wouldn’t have arisen if banks had done their homework very well.
Meanwhile, some of the banks said efforts are being put in place to attend swiftly to customers’ complaints as competition favours banks with quality service.
For instance, the management of Access Bank said it maintains complaints channels to facilitate a seamless complaint and feedback process.
According to the bank, various channels have been provided for the use of its customers and these include a 24-hour contact centre with feedback through emails, telephone, SMS, Livechat, Social Media, etc; – Feedback portal on the Bank’s website; – Customer service desks in over 500 branches and toll-free telephone lines to the office of the Group Managing Director in the banking halls of key branches.
The bank also encourages correspondence from its customers and it also has the Ombudsman Desk
On its part, the management of First Bank has pledged to continue to leverage and improve the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, Microsoft Dynamics 365 to collate Bank-wide complaints, track complaints, investigate the root cause analysis and resolution, and manage customer expectations.
In 2020, the bank introduced some self-service capabilities, notably the Interactive Voice Response at the contact centre to resolve basic requests and certain complaint types without recourse to a customer care agent.
The bank said this improved its business processes in addition to the continuous e-training and development carried out bank-wide to bridge the knowledge gap and improve complaints management during the unprecedented year. This was in addition to proactive measures taken in conjunction with relevant supervisors to avoid the expiration of agreed resolution timelines.
According to the management of UBA Plc, the bank seeks to proactively exceed its customers’ expectations at each of its multiple contact points with the bank users.
“In line with the Bank’s focus, our 24/7 Customer Fulfilment Centre (CFC) has been fully empowered, fortified, and repositioned to offer seamless and unparalleled service excellence to all UBA group customers and prospects alike,” the bank said in its 2020 annual report.
The management of GTBank explained that the complaints and feedback structure put in place ensures the prompt resolution of customers’ complaints.
“The Complaints Unit of the Bank is charged with the responsibility for the receipt, prompt investigation, and resolution of customers’ complaints. It also serves as the liaison between the Bank and its customers as well as regulatory authorities. Complaints received are given a unique identifier number for tracking purposes, acknowledged, and addressed promptly.
“Where a resolution can be provided immediately, the customer is provided with feedback, if not, the issue raised is referred to the appropriate team in the Bank for prompt resolution,” the bank stated.
Recall in response to various banks customers complaints, the Central Bank of Nigeria created the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) in 2012 in furtherance of one of its core mandates of promoting a sound financial system. The CPD was established to develop and implement an effective consumer protection framework that would promote consumer confidence in the financial system.
The Department performs three primary functions: Complaints Management: This involves resolving consumer complaints against financial institutions under the purview of the CBN; Market Conduct & Development: This is to entrench fair and responsible market conduct amongst the financial institutions concerning their customers; Consumer Education/Financial Literacy: This is to promote and disseminate financial education and awareness amongst existing and prospective consumers for the enhancement of their economic well-being.
According to the apex bank major expected impact is the entrenchment of fair and responsible business conduct amongst financial service providers as well as the existence of a consultation and feedback mechanism to periodically determine the extent of consumer satisfaction.
Another expected impact is a general improvement in financial capability as a result of the various financial literacy programmes which would ultimately increase participation