Inquiries offices at securities regulators play an important role in the investor protection chain. When handled effectively many issues can be put to bed quickly and painlessly. People who take the time to inquire/complain should be viewed as invaluable sources of information. An inquiry or complaint should be welcomed as an opportunity to resolve a problem, revise a rule or change a policy. Yet in our communication with retail investors, they tell us the satisfaction level with inquiries Offices is less than satisfactory. Complaints range from non-responsive, impatient and dismissive to abrupt and insulting. The most frequent complaint by far are responses that investors perceive as bureaucratic bafflegab that fail to answer the specific issues raised. This can result in a chain of communications that result in caller frustration and even anger.
Here's some ideas for improvement:
· Access - phone, mail, email, FAX - physical offices – convenient operating hours
· Languages-provide most common in the region
· Response times to inquiries- state target times clearly and keep to less than 3 days for most inquiries : explain if a delay is necessary
· Know your caller - elderly, vulnerable investor, veteran, recent immigrant, despondent due to losses....Tailor response to the type of caller.
· Understand the issue (s)- realize retail investors need help articulating the issue(s)
· Listening- apply assertive listening principles – try to understand the underlying issue(s)
· Respect- never insult the intelligence of callers , never ridicule
· Clarity- avoid use of investment industry jargon, acronyms and legalese in communications
· Plain language- use plain language principles.
· Remember, the majority of Canadians have low financial literacy.
· Linear response - answer specific questions asked, not questions not asked ; be forthright and straight to the point
· Patience- retail investors, especially complainants, need to be treated with a lot of patience- this is a new process for most ; do not close file prematurely
· Compassion and empathy - show understanding and be tolerant of occasional outbursts of caller frustration
· Facts and evidence- use objective material and references; do not ignore or dismiss caller evidence and paperwork
· Updates- provide periodic updates as required
· Responses- address the issues raised point by point in easy to understand terms; invite caller to contact you for further information
· Referrals- explain why referral is being made to another agency, provide full and clear contact information to referral
· Nest steps- if caller unsatisfied , explain/ suggest escalation procedure
· Satisfaction Survey - conduct caller annual satisfaction survey , publicly release results and commit to addressing issues identified
We believe that Inquiries Offices have an important role to play in investor protection. Taking the time to listen to the Voice of the Investor is a WIN –WIN for all stakeholders.
Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but the accuracy is not guaranteed. The material does not constitute a recommendation to buy, hold or sell. The purpose of this Document and others in the series is to educate investors by bringing together personal finance information from a variety of sources. It is not intended to provide legal, investment, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon in that regard. If legal or investment advice or other professional assistance is needed, the services of a competent professional should be obtained.
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