Minimising Your Complaints – Tit-Bits for Bank Customers (2)

“I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!”   Maya Angelou, the famous African American poet.

 

Last week, I laid emphasis on the reasons why educating customers about their duties and responsibilities are very crucial. Ignorance of these obligations eventually results in customer complaints. It was refreshing to receive feedback from both customers and bankers about some of the little things we can do for each other which we sometimes take for granted. I am sure that some customers will now know the basis for certain decisions and actions of their bankers.

Dear Customer, I hope you now appreciate the fact that there are certain transactions restricted to the home branch for your own protection. Would it be fair to hear that your account has been closed in another account (by fraudulent means through an impersonator) and funds in your account emptied? It would be scary. As I said last week, if you need to perform some restricted transactions in a branch other than your own, let your branch manager be aware of your request. There are ways to go around it to reduce fraud – and, obviously, the stress related to it.

It is really a long list, but let me touch on a few more:

  1. Inform the bank about any changes in your status:

Customers are advised to update their bankers of any changes in their status or documentation – e.g. telephone numbers, residential and official addresses, change of name, contacts and references. The absence of these can result in correspondence being misdirected and its resulting compromise of secrecy obligations. Many personal accounts holders who move stations in their workplaces are advised to inform their bankers. Such customers are advised to continue their banking relationships in another nearby branch of the same bank if possible. Where these are not practical, customers are advised to close their running accounts to avoid other people from checking their mails, “phishing” for information and eventually defrauding them of whatever balance is left in the account.

  1. Inform your manager when you are out of the country:

Despite the introduction of e-banking services which allow certain transactions on the account, customers are advised to let their Relationship or Branch managers be aware of their temporary absence. Do you know the reason why? Quite a number of frauds can be perpetuated on accounts which become inactive or ‘dormant’. Banks usually flag such accounts in the system for control purposes. However, when customers inform the bank of their absence, extra vigilance is conducted and regular monitoring is done as part of the banker’s duty of care to customers. Savings account transactions cannot be done without consent of the customer. Protect yourself and your account when you are not available.

  1. Honour your word – Be transparent in your dealings:

As human beings we should always do our best to be transparent in our relationships, both personal and official. However, to err is human. It is often said that there are certain persons that one should avoid lying to: Priests, Doctors, and Lawyers. Pardon my blasphemy! These days one should also speak the truth to one’s bankers. Why am I saying so? Customers who hide some transactions from their bankers eventually regret doing so. When bankers know the real nature of business that customers deal in, they offer more appropriate advisory services. In many cases, bankers are able to link up customers to connect and sometimes help themselves in their businesses without the bank getting involved.

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If you are a petty trader according to the bank’s records, and yet run a weekly turnover of GH¢10million – obviously, the alarm bells will ring. When it is time for a loan to be processed, there will be delays arising from the extra due diligence that the bank will need to do before it considers the loan request. This will definitely cause customers to complain. Obviously, the bank should not be blamed when many more questions are asked.

  1. Submit only genuine documents for loan processing:

Once the bank has approved any credit proposal, it is the duty of the customer to submit all the necessary papers and documents in one bunch – neatly sorted and arranged, not submitted piecemeal.  It will save a lot of time for everyone and obviate dissatisfaction and complaints.

  1. Comply with terms and conditions:

Having accepted all the terms and conditions of the account-opening process, it is the customer’s duty to comply with them sincerely and honourably. Let us examine some of them:

  • To immediately inform the bank when you discover or suspect that your signature has been forged.
  • To take care when drawing cheques so as not to facilitate fraudulent alterations. Check your cheque leaflets regularly to ensure there are no fraudulent pull-outs. Do you check whether the booklet is made up of exactly twenty-five or fifty leaflets? Do not sign blank cheques and leave them lying about. Always secure your cheque books. You can always (under the necessary indemnity) arrange with your bank to honour certain instructions given electronically under an emergency. With the current dispensation of e-banking transactions, both inter and intra-bank, learn to be equipped and in control of your finances.
  • Do not write too far away from the left hand margin or the currency symbol on your cheque leaf. It leaves room for third parties to make fraudulent alterations and illegally obtain payment if it is not detected.

 

  1. Check your statements regularly, and Read your SMS alert messages well

 

Much as banking transactions are performed by human beings, there is also a popular saying of “garbage in, garbage out”. Although bankers conduct checks daily and correct any errors detected, there have been cases of errors not being detected by supervisors – leading to imbalances on customers’ accounts. Please make a habit of checking your statements with the pay-in slips, cheques issued etc.

Don’t forget to take into account withdrawals made by counter cheques and withdrawal forms taken from the bank’s counters. Make sure these are done regularly and refer the statement received to the bankers for explanation of any unfamiliar transaction. This will prevent you from unnecessary suspicion of the bank staff about siphoning funds from your account! In the same vein, SMS alerts can also go wrong. I recently had to call my Relationship Officer to rectify a wrong SMS alert received, giving me a balance of double the money I had. It was found out that the message was a repetition of an old one. An e-statement was immediately mailed to me to confirm my actual balance.

  1. Don’t be deceived into accepting e-banking services when you do not understand how they work
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In our part of the world there are high illiteracy levels, and we still see many illiterates dabbling in transactions they have no idea about. Some bankers, under the stress of meeting targets, sell certain sensitive products to semi-literates. The fact that such a person is using a cell-phone does not make the person literate! Sometimes they are given ATM cards with the assumption that they can use them.

Many of such people only know the ‘fast-cash’ process and their cards are easily captured when they get stuck with some of the ‘ATM language’. The worst part is when their cards are captured in another bank’s ATM machine!! Wahala starts! Such persons expect that the staff should retrieve the card and immediately and hand it over to them! If you are a first-time user of an ATM card, be assertive and get assistance before you lose money to fraudsters lurking nearby – always ready to jump to the aid of unsuspecting customers facing problems at the ATM.

Bankers: Points to Ponder

  • Bankers, are your customers leaving your offices feeling empowered?
  • Managers, check your service quality ‘Barometer’.
  • Are customers leaving your offices with a bitter taste in their mouths?
  • Managers, are you rewarding staff who make customers empowered by sharing some of these obligations with them?
  • Dear bankers and customers, you have a tall order. Don’t forget, knowledge is power.
  • Dear Bankers, please share these basic tit-bits with the customers so that they are reminded of these obligations. In doing so, do not lose your finesse and professionalism.

 

 

 

 

 

Before I sign off, I will leave you with this typical scenario.

 

Branch Scenario

You are the branch manager. A customer rushes into your office waving her statement and shouting that the recent debit transactions on her account are not unauthorised. You check the system and seek to reconcile it with her cheque book. You realize that the counterfoil of some of the paid cheques are missing. What would you do? You have been sending her regular statements.

Discuss it among yourselves in your morning huddles. Good luck. It will be nice if you send me your feedback.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She uses her experience and practical case studies for training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.

CONTACT

Website www.alkanbiz.com

Email: alberta@alkanbiz.com or albique@yahoo.com

Tel: +233-0244333051/+233-0244611343

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