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Managing complaints

South Africa

In South Africa, Standard Bank’s customers are able to lodge a complaint through any Personal & Business Banking (PBB) channel such as our website, call centres and branch network, as well as public platforms such as and social media. Complaints that cannot be resolved at the channel level are escalated to our Service Recovery unit and those requiring further investigation are escalated to a specialist Complaints Resolution Centre. The centre ensures that high reputational risk complaints receive the required focus and urgency, and is equipped to deal with all escalated customer complaints through to resolution. Information gathered from our complaints management process is used to improve service and to track the performance of customer service initiatives. Findings are escalated to the executive committees of the various customer offerings and customer channel departments. The reasons for service breakdowns are investigated in greater detail using root cause analysis. Currently, the complaints management process covers the majority of PBB operations in South Africa including Inclusive Banking and PBB functions provided by Corporate & Investment Banking (CIB). During 2012, we received 69 156 complaints, a 10% decrease on 2011.


Customers who are unhappy with the outcome of the complaints resolution process have the right to escalate their complaints to various industry ombud functions. The Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (FAIS) Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Banking Services (Banking Ombudsman) are the most frequently used, however complaints received by the National Credit Regulator and the National Consumer Commission are increasing.

During 2012, we were exposed to potential maximum losses of R9,9 million arising from claims made to the FAIS Ombudsman, of which we settled of R5,4 million. Of our potential maximum exposure for 2012, R2,7 million was due to four cases dating back to 2010 and 2011, which have been resolved with R2,0 million paid to customers. Claims that have not been resolved are either pending judgement, are being recalculated based on the circumstances of the case or have been dismissed in the bank’s favour. During the year, R28,7 million was claimed by customers from the Banking Ombudsman, of which we settled R3,7 million. Around 65% of these claims relate to Internet Banking phishing, ATM fraud and collections.

Customer Dispute Adjudication office

Our internal Customer Dispute Adjudication office also assists with customer dispute resolution. This office is independent and positioned outside normal operational complaint handling structures. Decisions made by the office are final and binding on behalf of the bank, and through this function additional customer claims have been settled by the bank.

The function of the office is to adjudicate on escalated disputes in a fair, neutral, impartial and unbiased manner, helping to ensure customer retention while protecting the bank’s reputation. Each dispute is assessed on its own merit and dealt with in accordance with strict timelines, while keeping all parties involved throughout the adjudication process. During 2012, this office considered 179 cases with a potential maximum exposure of around R13,5 million. A total of R6,1 million was awarded to customers. Of these cases, a total of 116 were FAIS Ombud cases, four were escalated Banking Ombudsman disputes and 59 were internal referrals.

Managing complaints
    2012 2011 2010
Customer complaints      
Number of complaints   69 156 76 679 82 513
Banking Ombudsman      
Number of complaints referred by the Banking Ombudsman 845 1 008 1 265
Amount claimed by customers Rm 28,7 28,9 13,6
Amount settled by the bank Rm 3,7 9,8 4,2
FAIS Ombud      
Number of FAIS complaints 116 108 143
Potential maximum exposure Rm 9,9 N/A1 N/A1
Amount settled by the bank Rm 5,4 1,3 1,6
1 Not available has a new metric was introduced in 2012.
 Note: for South Africa only.

Standard Bank Africa

Complaints in our African operations are reported through the distribution channels available in-country. As not all our African operations have customer contact centres, in 2012 we set up complaints inboxes in each country for customers to email their complaints directly to the in-country head of customer service. We are developing a customer complaint management framework for each country and where a customer contact centre does not exist, we will focus on the particular banking segments, such as Business Banking or Personal Banking, to ensure that they have capacity to effectively manage complaints. This will include staff training on the complaints management process. Our medium-term goal is to have a contact centre in each country of operation, supported by an automated customer relationship management system.

Complaints management policy

The complaints management policy seeks to ensure that all Standard Bank South Africa staff are aware of and execute complaints handling and resolution in a consistent manner and that the complaint resolution process aligns to the PBB strategy to enhance the service recovery experience, customer loyalty and customer retention. All complaints are logged on a complaint management front-end system and tracked against agreed service levels per complaint type, firstly to manage the customer expectation and secondly to ensure that complaints are fully resolved within stipulated timelines. A complaint training module has been incorporated in the training for new staff and our internal employee reference guide includes a detailed complaints process guideline.


This policy applies to our South African banking business.

Related link

Useful email addresses

  • For complaints: email.
  • For compliments: email.
  • For customer relations centre: email.

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