This information is pulled from our CFPB policy manual and discusses the issue and the importance of effectively dealing with customer complaints that make it to your company.  It is critically important to the CFPB, which, in turn, should make it a top priority for you.


I.          BACKGROUND

An effective compliance management system should ensure that a supervised entity is responsive and responsible in handling consumer complaints and inquiries. Intelligence gathered from consumer contacts should be organized, retained, and used as part of an institution’s compliance management system.

CFPB examiners are instructed to consider consumer complaints to determine whether: (1) consumer complaints and inquiries, regardless of where submitted, are appropriately recorded and categorized; (2) complaints and inquiries, whether regarding the entity or its third-party service providers, are addressed and resolved promptly; (3) complaints that raise legal issues involving potential consumer harm from unfair treatment or discrimination, or other regulatory compliance issues, are appropriately escalated; (4) complaint data and individual cases drive adjustments to business practices as appropriate; (5) consumer complaints result in retrospective corrective action to correct the effects of the supervised entity’s actions when appropriate; and (6) weaknesses in the compliance management system exist, based on the nature or number of substantive complaints from consumers.

Examiners are directed to review records, interview management, and contact consumers if needed to evaluate the consumer response component of the compliance management system.  Specifically, the CFPB Exam Manual provides that examiners should: (1) obtain and review records of recent consumer complaints and inquiries received by CFPB about the entity and its service providers; (2) review industry or other benchmarking complaint data collected by CFPB; (3) to the extent available, obtain and review records of recent consumer complaints against the institution from the prudential regulator, from state regulators, from state attorneys general offices or licensing and registration agencies, and from private or other industry sources; (4) request and review from the institution being examined its policies and procedures for receiving, escalating, and resolving consumer complaints and inquiries; (5) request and review the record of consumer complaints and inquiries received by the institution for a specific recent period of time; (6) identify complaints alleging deception, unfair treatment, unlawful discrimination, or other significant consumer injury and review some or all of those complaints for handling, timeliness, disposition, and any prospective and retrospective corrective actions; (7) determine whether corrective action is offered or taken for any complaint resulting in a conclusion of violation of law or regulation; (8) determine whether complaints involving third-party service providers or other third parties referring business to the supervised entity receive prompt and appropriate handling and follow-up by the entity; (9) if a supervised entity maintains multiple consumer response centers or units, determine whether it employs a common set of best practices as applicable; (10) determine whether evaluations of consumer contacts are shared within the supervised entity and included in compliance management reporting to the Board and senior management, and whether such information is used in modifying policies, procedures, training, and monitoring; (11) draw preliminary conclusions regarding the strength, adequacy, or weakness of the supervised entity’s response to consumer issues and concerns, and identify business conduct areas, specific regulations, or organizational units for more detailed review.