CFPB complaint database: Customer satisfaction opportunity?

Julie C. Nichols General

HousingWire – Randy Wussler

Over the last year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made significant strides in fulfilling its mission of education, enforcement and study. Leadership has gone to great lengths to ensure Americans view the CFPB as a trusted watchdog for the people. You can “like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, and since July 2011, the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database has provided consumers an easy vehicle for lodging complaints against specific financial institutions. Consumers have not been shy in using the database.

The CFPB received more than 176,000 consumer complaints between July 2011 and June 2013 with more than two-thirds of the complaints received centered on mortgage lending (48%) and credit reporting (21%). However, since consumers do not have to attempt to resolve the problem with the financial institution prior to lodging a complaint, the CFPB database is quickly becoming a “National Better Business Bureau” for the financial industry. Though the database is a convenient home for complaints, it is creating an unmanageable and unnecessary amount of work for those designated to address them. Because the database is an easy path for consumers to take in voicing their concerns, they will continue to use it before addressing the problem directly with the financial institution.

To alleviate some of this burden and improve customer satisfaction, financial institutions have a great opportunity to evaluate the complaints consumers are making and develop strategies to address issues earlier in the lending process—before they become complaints.

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