Banks to implement customer advocate role

The Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) has released a set of guiding principles for the creation of a new customer advocacy role in a bid to make complaint resolution easier for customers.

The design of the role will be left to individual banks “considering their specific needs, current arrangements and aspirations, as well as customer and community expectations”, however the principles have been issued to guide banks on the implementation of the role.

“Each bank will decide how best to embed the new customer advocate role into their existing processes, but at the end of the day, customers can expect to have a greater voice when getting any problems resolved with their bank,” explained ABA executive director of retail policy Diane Tate.

The ABA said the customer advocate role is intended as an adjunct to existing customer support processes, and not a substitute for complaint resolution.

“It is not the role of the Customer Advocate to require the customer to engage with them or to discourage a customer in any way from proceeding to external dispute resolution,” the industry body said.

“Any engagement with a Customer Advocate should not put customers in a worse position by lengthening, replacing or substituting internal complaints handling processes.”

Ms Tate commented that the customer advocate should highlight systematic issues that face bank customers and ensure issues are resolved in a timely manner.

“The customer advocate may help directly resolve a complaint, escalate significant complaints to the top or help people to seek external resolution if they aren’t satisfied with the bank’s response,” she said.

“They may help the bank set up a remediation program to resolve a problem that impacts a group of customers, and make sure the program runs smoothly.”

Additionally, the ABA cautioned banks they need to “be mindful of the Code of Banking Practice and other obligations”, and ensure customers are aware they retain their rights to external dispute resolution programs.

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Francesca Krakue

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