Government of Pakistan
State of Bank Pakistan
June 07, 2004
BPD Circular No. 17 of 2004
GUIDELINES IN DEALING WITH CUSTOMERS COMPLAINTS
Several complaints are received in State Bank of Pakistan every day stating that concerned banks/DFIs, due to bureaucratic attitude/behavior, are not attending to their grievances resulting in either financial losses or damage to their businesses. In this regard, it has also been noted that complaints forwarded by SBP to various banks/DFIs are also not responded to promptly which results in a delay in deciding the issue. This state of affairs indicates that banks/DFIs either do not have a unit/section to deal with complaints or do not have a proper mechanism/procedure for resolution of public/clients’ grievances. This has been viewed with concern by SBP. Accordingly, it has been decided that each bank/DFI should immediately identify & entrust responsibility to an appropriate senior person to deal with all sort of complaints, either received directly by them or referred through different agencies/institutions, including SBP. In case where some of the banks/DFIs already have entrusted the work to a unit/section, the same may be strengthened appropriately.
2. In this regard, the banks/DFIs shall observe the following minimum guidelines:-
i) Identify and entrust the responsibility to an appropriate senior person to handle all sort of complaints received.
ii) The name, designation and contact details (phone, fax, e-mail, mobile etc) of person so identified alongwith an officer working with him/her in this area may be sent to SBP immediately. In case of any change in the name of concerned officer(s), the same may be notified alongwith aforesaid details within 2 days to Director, Banking Policy Department.
iii) The person and section/unit entrusted the work must:-
a) Acknowledge all the complaints;
b) Address/handle and investigate the complaints in a fair and prompt manner;
c) Devise a system for redressal of the complaints in an appropriate and courteous manner and the reply to the complainant must be clear and indicate the reasons/rationale of the decision being conveyed to him/her. If possible, the reply may be sent in Urdu language where the complainant has used the language other than English.
d) Identify the complaints of recurring nature and ensure that immediate corrective action is taken in that area.
e) Monitor the status of complaints received against the banks/DFIs, analyze the data periodically for improving this activity. A regular report, containing statistics on the volume and type of complaints received, settled/redressed, outstanding etc., should be submitted periodically to management for review.
iv) The complaints must be responded within a period of 10 working days. Where a complaint requires further investigation, an interim reply must be sent indicating the reasons for the time to be taken and expected date of action/response. However, in any case, the final reply may be sent within a period not exceeding 45 working days, barring cases where reasonable grounds exist on record for not complying within the prescribed time period.
v) Regular audit of complaint unit/section must be conducted by internal auditors to check the performance, effectiveness and utility of unit/section.
3. In order to communicate to their customers and for expeditious resolution of complaints/grievances, the Banks/DFIs, within one month from the date of issuance of this circular, shall make appropriate arrangements to:-
a) Prepare a leaflet indicating the procedure for lodgment of a complaint and its resolution both in English and Urdu for the convenience of their customers and also post it on notice boards at each of their branch/office as also on their website (if available).
b) Supply a copy of the leaflet to customers upon request.
c) Make available copies of their internal complaint handling procedures, in each of their branches and offices to which customers have access for expeditious disposal of complaints.
4. Banks/DFIs must also ensure that where a complaint needs to be probed further the same may be investigated by an employee who is not directly involved with that particular complaint. The staff dealing with complaints should be provided appropriate training in order to enhance their skills in expeditious resolution of complaints and related matters/issues.
5. The complaints forwarded by State Bank of Pakistan should also be handled by the person/ section/unit as indicated at para 2(i), 2(ii) and 2(iv) above. The designated person shall be the contact person for SBP in this regard.
6. State Bank of Pakistan, during the course of inspection, would particularly check the performance, effectiveness and functioning of the Complaint Section. Strict action as per provisions of law shall be taken against the bank/DFI and the concerned staff members of the complaint section/unit for non-compliance of instructions and negligence in handling complaints. In determining the overall assessment/performance of the banks during the course of onsite inspection, the functioning of complaints section/unit, besides other, shall also be taken into account.
7. Please acknowledge receipt.
(Muhammad Kamran Shehzad)