Financial Firms Hit By Record Number Of Complaints

As we reported last week, new laws are set to take effect on June 13th that will ban companies from using expensive premium phone lines to field customer complaints. Who will be most affected by these reforms? We reckon businesses operating in the financial sector are a fair shout.

How many times have you been told you are eligible to make a PPI claim? While most people quickly end the call as soon as they hear these three dreaded letters, there are plenty of Britons who have lodged successful claims against financial companies that had previously mis-sold them payment protection insurance. In fact, figures provided by the Financial Conduct Authority confirm that as of February 2014, an eye-watering £14.3 billion of PPI compensation had been paid out by the nation’s banks since January 2011.

Financial firms are flooded with complaints

Taking the PPI saga into account, it will surprise few people to learn that the number of complaints being handled by banks and lenders has reached new heights.

According to the latest annual review published by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the organisation settled 518,778 disputes in 2013/14 – more than doubling the previous year’s total. The FOS answered 2.3 million enquiries over the course of the year, amounting to 40,000 every week. With this in mind, just imagine how many angry customers the banks themselves are dealing with on a daily basis.

PPI claims made up 78 per cent of all cases handled by the FOS, with the overall number of compensation claims being launched rising by six per cent when compared with the previous year. Chief ombudsman Tony Boorman said it had been an “unprecedented 12 months” for the FOS, adding: “Whether it’s dealing with a complex pension complaint or problems with a mobile banking app, the financial services sector continues to face the challenge of putting the customer at the centre of their business.”

Why banks will have no choice but to make their call centres more flexible

Mr Boorman’s comments are poignant, as they highlight exactly what we at alldayPA have been saying for a long time – the customer is king.

Companies have had little choice but to adapt to changing consumer behaviour, and this means fielding customer complaints and queries outside of traditional working hours. Banks are renowned for being tighter than most when it comes to handling calls in unsociable hours, but you only have to do a quick Google search to see that times are changing.

Santander, for example, lists its call centre opening times in no uncertain terms. While PPI complaints can still only be made between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday, customers will now have their calls answered between 9am and 4pm on Saturdays if they have other grievances. Banks being open on Saturdays was unthinkable just a few years ago.

We’ve seen first-hand that firms in other industries are now dealing with an increasing number of customer enquiries on Sundays, so is it just a matter of time before the UK’s banks follow suit?

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