By Donya Parrish, MCU VP- Risk Management
We had a great discussion on the monthly compliance officers call recently. It revolved around the complaint process — who manages it? what is a “complaint”? when do you involve the supervisory committee? As you can see, there are a lot of facets to the topic, and no two credit unions handle it the same way. The topic continues to grow in importance now that consumers have more of a voice on social media, with their peers, and can tarnish your institution’s reputation in seconds online if they feel something isn’t resolved adequately.
CUNA’s Credit Union Supervisory Committee Handbook offers some advice on this topic. Specifically, it states that an “especially important supervisory committee responsibility is handling members’ problems and complaints.” and that “while most complaints can be easily resolved by referring members to the proper staff person… it’s important to make sure that members know they have someone to go to when and if they have concerns or problems related to the credit union.”
Your supervisory committee is certainly not equipped to handle employee discipline or challenges with technology systems that consumers might not like, but committee members “should be particularly concerned with the potential for discrimination, inappropriate loan denials, and other member-related issues that may come to the attention of the committee.”
There are also some complaints that may be forwarded to your committee by your regulatory agencies (e.g. NCUA, Division of Banking). Those need to be prioritized and dealt with as timely as possible since an outside third party is already involved.
Your committee should ensure you have a mechanism for keeping up with the internal complaint process at your credit union. Not every complaint is given the same level of importance, and looking at patterns and problem areas can be difficult to do; but, having a focus of some kind on complaints is necessary to address possible systemic issues before they come back in the form of lawsuits or, worse yet, class action lawsuits.