A wise man rights his wrongs
While this statement may ring true in some contexts, there are several nuances when it comes to complaints. What do we mean when we say a bank rectifies its conduct?
When it issues a report to resolve a complaint, the Banco de España can either rule in favour of the bank or the complainant. When it rules in favour of the complainant, banks have one month to right, or “rectify”, their conduct if they consider it appropriate.
The bank can also accept that the customer is right before the Banco de España issues its report. This is called acceptance of liability and means that the bank has decided to “rectify” its conduct before the report is issued.
In both cases the proceeding is resolved in the complainant's favour. As a result, they are both taken into account when calculating the rectification percentages we publish in our Complaints Report.
In principle, a higher number of reports ruling in favour of complainants is a negative assessment of banks’ conduct and a higher percentage of rectifications can be deemed positive bank conduct.
It seems cut and dried, right? But it isn’t, really. When interpreting this indicator, there are nuances to consider.
When discussing percentages, we must take into account the absolute values. To give a really clear example:
- One bank receives four complaints. The resulting reports all rule against it and it rectifies its conduct in all four cases. This bank’s rectification percentage will be 100%.
- Another bank receives the same four complaints. Yet only one report rules against it and it doesn’t rectify its conduct. This bank’s rectification percentage will be 0%.
Which bank’s conduct has been better?
- We could also intuitively assess one bank that has rectified its conduct frequently better than another that has seldom done so. But if a bank has frequently rectified its conduct, many reports ruling against it have been issued where it could have accepted its liability (rectified before the report was issued) or even settled the complaint in the customer’s favour when it was lodged with its customer service department and saved the complainant any inconvenience.
Again, which bank’s conduct has been better?
- Lastly, some conduct [Q31]simply cannot be rectified. For example, a bank failing to provide the customer with pre-contractual information cannot be rectified once the contract has been signed.
Therefore, if a bank receives many complaints like this, its rectification indicator will be smaller than that of other banks.
In a nutshell, experience has shown that no indicator should be interpreted separately and independently from the manifold factors affecting complaints analysis. Correctly analysing the extensive information provided in the Complaints Report requires the simultaneous assessment of several indicators for each bank. These include the absolute number of complaints, the number of reports ruling in the customer’s favour, the acceptances of liability and rectifications. This assessment must also be complemented by quality qualitative aspects on how the corresponding customer service departments function.