Question: We are redrafting on consumer complaint policy and we’re getting stuck on how to handle the early stages of complaint resolution. Can you provide some practical guidance with respect to starting the complaint resolution process?
The Board of Directors or Senior Management should delegate the responsibility of monitoring and responding to complaints to a manager. Some companies give this individual the title Complaint Resolution Officer or CRO.
All written complaints initially would be directed to the appropriate department and functional area, or, if there is any uncertainty, instead to the CRO. The appropriate personnel will draft responses to consumers and/or regulators, and cross copy the CRO. If the company is small, the initial complaints would be sent directly to the CRO.
Generally, the CRO will keep a central file of complaints and responses. The Board and Management should meet, at least quarterly, to review new complaints and responses. Senior management would determine if certain complaints must be brought to the attention of the Board more often or if the response to the consumer and/or regulator should come from the Board.
Once a complaint is noted, institution personnel may be interviewed individually by the functional department manager or designated CRO if they are involved in the consumer’s complaint or comment. Explanations of the occurrence can be requested during the interview process, and copies of any written instructions furnished to employees about the allegation would be reviewed and discussed during the interview process.
A written report should by written by a department manager or CRO, presenting the facts and information in a clear, objective manner. The report should:
►Summarize the facts in a chronological order;
►Detail the precise claims of the complainant;
►Express the resolution desired by the complainant; and,
►Indicate management’s response to the claims of the complainant.
The report should include the recommended course of action or corrective procedures and comments on whether the complaint represents an isolated case or a pattern or practice that needs to be corrected.
Complaint resolution must follow a timed response process. Unless otherwise required by regulation for different timely response criteria, the following general guidelines should be followed regarding responses to complaints:
►Complaints should be acknowledged within 15 days after receipt of the correspondence, oral, telephonic, or electronic notification of a complaint;
►Inquiries, comments, or objections should be answered or information provided within 15 business days after receipt;
►Complaints not involving an on-site investigation should be fully processed and responded to within 30 days after receipt; and,
►Complaints involving an on-site investigation should be resolved within 45 days after receipt.
Jonathan Foxx is managing director of Lenders Compliance Group, the first and only full-service, mortgage risk management firm in the United States, specializing exclusively in outsourced mortgage compliance and offering a suite of services in residential mortgage banking for banks and non-banks. If you would like to contact him, please e-mail [email protected].