How to Enhance Customer Service in Finance and Eliminate Junk Fees
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently issued a crucial advisory opinion, which serves as a safeguard against large banks and credit unions creating unnecessary hurdles for their customers. These hurdles include imposing fees for obtaining basic information about their own accounts. In 2010, federal law stipulated that large banks and credit unions must furnish their accountholders with comprehensive and accurate account details upon request.
In the current landscape, we've witnessed a shift among many large banks away from the traditional relationship-focused banking model, which used to place a strong emphasis on delivering top-notch customer service in finance. However, the advisory opinion issued today serves as a reminder that, regardless of this industry shift, individuals are well within their rights to access fundamental account information without being subjected to unreasonable fees. In essence, it reinforces the principle that basic financial information should be readily available to customers without them having to pay ‘junk’ fees.
The Digital Imperative for Financial Institutions
In recent years, digital technology adoption has accelerated, with consumers increasingly relying on digital channels for various aspects of their lives. However, despite this digital transformation, some financial institutions, particularly larger banks and credit unions, have lagged in providing efficient and accessible customer service through digital means.
Junk Fees and Customer Service Barriers
Traditionally, some financial institutions have imposed fees on customers who seek basic information about their accounts, creating a barrier to accessing essential financial details. This practice, often referred to as "junk fees," not only frustrates customers but also raises concerns about compliance with federal regulations.
The CFPB's recent advisory opinion addresses this issue directly. It reminds large banks and credit unions that federal law prohibits them from imposing unreasonable obstacles, such as charging excessive fees, when customers request basic account information. The advisory opinion clarifies that people are entitled to receive essential information without incurring these fees.
The Path to Improved Customer Service
To align with the CFPB's guidance and enhance customer service, financial institutions can take several proactive steps:
Prioritize Digital Engagement: Recognize the shift in customer expectations towards digital interactions. Invest in user-friendly online platforms and mobile apps that allow customers to access their account information, make transactions, and seek assistance effortlessly.
Digital Self-Service Options: Develop and promote digital self-service options for customers. Enable them to perform routine tasks such as checking balances, reviewing transactions, and managing their accounts online. Empower customers to resolve common issues without the need for human intervention.
Accessible Information: Ensure that customers can easily access basic account information, such as account agreements and transaction histories, through digital channels. Make this information readily available on websites and within mobile apps.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Chatbots: Leverage AI-powered chatbots to deliver prompt and accurate responses to customer inquiries. Implement chatbots capable of answering common questions and directing customers to relevant resources.
Transparent Fee Practices: Review and revise fee structures to eliminate any charges for essential account information. Be transparent about fees, and consider waiving fees for customer requests that fall within the scope of federal regulations.
Complaint Handling: Establish efficient channels for customers to submit complaints or seek assistance. Encourage customers to provide feedback on their experiences and use this feedback to continually improve services.
Employee Training: Train employees to promote digital solutions and assist customers in navigating online platforms effectively. Empower staff to educate customers on digital tools and resources available to them.
Compliance with Regulations: Continually monitor and ensure compliance with all federal regulations, especially those related to customer service and information accessibility.
By embracing digital technology and eliminating junk fees, financial institutions can not only align with the CFPB's advisory opinion but also enhance customer satisfaction, improve retention rates, and maintain a competitive edge in the evolving financial landscape.
The shift toward digital self-service and transparent fee practices will not only benefit customers but also contribute to the long-term success of the financial industry.
Chat with one of our CCM experts to learn how we can help your organization improve customer service by prioritizing digital engagement and transitioning to digital self-service activities.