While banks try to get it right all of the time, in reality that’s not always going to happen. So when a customer has a complaint, we want to make it easier to get it resolved.
All banks are introducing a new customer advocate role to help them handle complaints better, improve customer experience, and minimise the likelihood of future problems. The customer advocate will be able to ensure the bank better understands where the customer is coming from, and have the power to escalate issues to the CEO if they think the bank isn’t resolving issues properly.
The appointment of customer advocates is an important opportunity to give customers a greater voice when things go wrong and reach fairer outcomes. Banks are in the process of appointing customer advocates, with the four major banks and others already announcing their customer advocates:
- AMP Group: Melanie Howard-McDonald who reports to Paul Sainsbury, AMP Group Executive Wealth Solutions and Chief Customer Officer.
- ANZ: Jo McKinstray who reports to Fred Ohlsson, Chief Executive Officer (Australia Division).
- Arab Bank Australia: James Gow who reports to Joseph Rizk, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.
- Bank Australia: Fiona Nixon who reports to Rowan Dowland General Manager Corporate Development.
- Bank of Queensland: Catherine Leilua who reports to Anthony Rose, Chief Operations Officer.
- Bendigo and Adelaide Bank / Rural Bank: Leonie Higgs who reports to the Chief Customer Officer, Marnie Baker.
- Citi: Ellise Newlan, Head of Customer Experience.
- Commonwealth Bank: Dr Brendan French who reports to the Deputy CEO, David Cohen.
- HSBC: Jessica Power, Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, reporting to Martin Tricaud Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Bank Australia Limited.
- ING DIRECT: Monique Zimany, who reports to ING’s Head of Direct Distribution, Joshua Walther.
- Macquarie Bank: David Markell who reports to Shemara Wikramanayake, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.
- ME Bank: Scott Dare who reports to Ingrid Purcell, Chief Experience Officer.
- MyState Bank: Melanie Rottier who reports to Mandakini Khanna, Chief Risk Officer.
- NAB: Catherine Wolthuizen who reports to the Group Executive, Governance and Reputation and NAB’s Executive Leadership.
- Rabobank: Monica Assaf who reports to Peter Knoblanche, Managing Director Rabobank Aust. & NZ Group / CEO Rabobank Australia.
- Suncorp: Matthew Leslie, who reports to Chief Risk Officer Fiona Thompson.
- Westpac: Adrian Ahern who reports to Christine Parker, Group Executive, Corporate Affairs and Human Resources.
Guiding principles to help banks appoint their customer advocate were published in September 2016 and later revised to reflect feedback about different approaches banks may take when introducing a customer advocate. This includes making sure the function suits the needs of customers and the size and structure of the bank.
The guiding principles were also updated to make it clearer that the customer advocate as a minimum covers retail and small business customers.
A copy of the updated guiding principles is available here.
We’re also working on making sure our complaints handling processes work better and are better understood by our customers. For a step-by-step guide on how to get problems with your bank resolved, download our fact sheet here.
Mr Ian McPhee is independently overseeing this initiative as part of the governance of industry reforms announced in April 2016.