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Absa’s Ombudsman for Banking Services complaints, the lowest amongst “big five” banks

12 May 2021 Absa

Absa witnesses a 37% decrease in cases raised with the Ombudsman for Banking Services in 2020

The Ombudsman for Banking Services has seen a considerable drop in complaints raised by Absa customers for 2020, making it the best performing of the traditional “big five” banks when it comes to dispute resolution. This follows Absa’s recent awards for Best Bank and Best Individual at the Ombudsman for Banking Services’ (OBS) Annual Awards ceremony in November 2020.

“The staggering decline in the number of complaints raised by customers to the Ombudsman for Banking Services in 2020 is testament to our efforts to get closer to customers. While there is more work to be done, this builds on our previous successes and signifies tangible progression in our customer journey. We continue to seek unique ways of being responsive to the ever-evolving needs of our customers, as evidenced by our comprehensive Payment Relief Programme which provided R9.8bn in payment relief to customers, and our R500 million pricing relief which saw a raft of fee reductions with the sole purpose of insulating consumers from further financial strain during these uncertain times,” says Christine Wu, Managing Executive: Customer Value Management at Absa Retail and Business Bank.

Notable highlights from the OBS’ Annual Report include the fact that Absa opened 543 fewer cases in 2020, compared to 2019 – a 37% decrease, while the biggest decline in complaints were fraud-related – a 76% drop in credit card fraud complaints and a 78% decline in Internet Banking fraud complaints. Additionally, only 54% of Ombudsman referrals to Absa were converted to formal complaints.

“We are particularly pleased about the inroads made with regards to fraud-related complaints. Given the rapidly changing fraud landscape, a major factor in turning the tide on complaints has been Absa’s comprehensive re-engineering of its approach to dealing with customers who have been defrauded, and our market-first, free Digital Fraud Warranty. Acknowledgement of the stresses of a fraud event, empathy and efficient service have been heightened in our new approach to fraud, which has dramatically altered how we deal with defrauded customers and our approach to reimbursements,” adds Wu.

The OBS, which is fully independent, resolves individual complaints about banking services and products. Acknowledgement by the Ombudsman yet again marks a significant turnaround in Absa’s commitment to meaningful customer service and dispute resolution. Moving from the highest number of disputes a few years ago, to having the fewest disputes amongst the “big five” banks marks a remarkable turnaround.

“What is most encouraging is the culture of collaboration we now enjoy with the Ombudsman. Engagements extend beyond complaints handling. Our teams obtain and share views on a range of issues impacting our customers to ensure that we continue to Treat Customers Fairly,” she says.

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