Citibank Complaints Highlight How Customer Service Missteps Can Be Amplified in Times of Crisis
Citibank credit card customers have filed a relatively high volume of complaints about unfair treatment by the bank, CNN Business reports. The bank accounted for about 37%, or 168, of the 456 pandemic-related complaints made to regulators about credit cards between March 16 and May 20, per analysis Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaints database conducted by Consumer Reports and cited by CNN – four times more than the nearest bank, Synchrony Bank (40).
The complaints concerned matters such as late fees and inflexible interest charges, as well as refusals to provide assistance to customers facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. Citi issued a statement saying that Consumer Reports “grossly misrepresented” how Citi has supported its customers and that complaints referenced in the CFPB database “include those related to disputes between traders, as well as those received very early in the crisis. just before the credit card help is available. ” He also noted that many disputes between traders were related to trip cancellations.
As the coronavirus crisis took hold in the United States, major banks deployed a wide range of measures to protect the health and finances of customers. Banks have stepped up to ease the burden on customers by offering mortgage forbearance, credit card payment deferral, fee waivers, and educational resources on using digital tools during branch closures. And it should be noted that Citi communicated to customers that it was offer credit card payment deferrals among its relief measures in mid-May, according to Insider Intelligence analysis of banks’ public websites and marketing and public relations materials.
The volume of complaints against Citi is low relative to its overall customer base, but Consumer Report’s findings still illustrate how customer service missteps can be magnified in times of crisis. Citi pointed out in its statement that the 168 complaints referenced by Consumer Reports represent a tiny fraction of the 1.9 million customers it has helped during the coronavirus crisis.
While this means that the potential fallout in customer attrition for Citi is expected to be minimal, it still points to a reputational risk in not treading lightly when it comes to helping customers during a downturn. crisis. By being lenient with distressed customers, banks can build customer loyalty and foster positive word of mouth for their brand while gaining approval from regulators like the CFPB and
Failure to meet the needs of customers in need will have the opposite effect: severe customer dissatisfaction, negative media attention, and anger – and potentially increased future scrutiny – of regulators who rely on banks to help them during the crisis. coronaviruses.
Clarification: We have updated this item with additional context from Citi on the content of customer complaints. (June 26, 2020)
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