With the news cycle especially intense this year, headline items are impacting many of us personally — and its effects are trickling into our institutions, too. Using the PositivityTech platform, institutions are finding that their customer complaints focus on the current economic, social, and health crises — and display interconnected impacts. This critical information can be used as business intelligence when making decisions.

A Web Of Interconnected Issues

An analysis of 17 large financial institutions, which we’ll call the targeted subset, revealed the following interconnected effects on customers complaining to the CFPB.

Economic Impact: Percentage of customer complaints related to the economic impact of COVID-19 within the past year

  • Targeted subset: 10%
  • All financial institutions: 2%

Health Impact: Percentage of customer complaints that include issues about health, health insurance, or medical conditions within the past year

  • Targeted subset: 3%
  • All financial institutions: 4%

Social Impact: Percentage of customer complaints that individuals chose to make public within the past year – a trend that is increasing during the crises

  • Targeted subset: 43%
  • All financial institutions: 38%

Now, let’s look at how customer complaints highlight, in their own words, these crises’ negative impacts on their customer experience:

A Customer Complaint About The Economic Crisis

“Due to COVID-19, I am currently laid off… and requested assistance from XX. I asked them to defer payments as per PA Cares. They refused assistance, just kept asking for payments. They showed no empathy and did not even ask how I was affected.”

With economic stimulus payments, deferrals, and forbearance programs skewing credit scoring algorithms, financial institutions are actively looking for alternative data sources to inform their credit decisions. Customer complaints like this one are viable data sources, which are currently underutilized by banks.

A Customer Complaint About The Health Crisis

“I was laid off from work when I was hospitalized. When I was well enough, I reached out to XX to explain and notify that I have missed the payment due to being in a COVID-19 impacted area and being hospitalized and asked if I could get an extension on payments with no late fees and interest payments, which I was told would be honored, until my health insurance was being debited and the card declined due to the fact that XX charged me late fees and interest fees… and locked the card… I was extremely ill and this is the time that they chose to take advantage of me.”

With PositivityTech, banks find that complaints that mention the current crisis have especially high Severity Scores, our proprietary score that identifies severe complaints and future risks based on customer narratives.

A Customer Complaint About The Social Crisis

“My credit file was breached years ago without any compensation. I completed all the appropriate documentation and I am still trying to get my V.A. loan that I have rightly earned. Why can I not get my V.A. loan by no fault of my own? Why should my family continue to stay in a hotel since I cannot obtain one? Why will XX not take their knee off the necks of            Americans, particularly my neck? I am begging to have these inquiries, and you all will not let me breathe.  Could you all show God’s kindness to            who risked his life fighting for a country I love dearly?” 

In this complaint, the customer, who is also a veteran, has used George Floyd’s powerful language to highlight the biases that he is facing at his bank, and the current crises’ interconnected impacts on him and his family. PositivityTech’s algorithms are sensitive to the fact that financial institutions’ customer complaints reflect language highlighted in the media. The media, as we have seen, also highlights customer complaint language.

Your Customers’ Voices Are Leading Indicators

We should expect that global events will reveal their impact within our own institutions. To truly understand how our external environment is impacting your business, listen to your customers. The leading indicator is what your customers are telling you.

To explore the critical messages within your financial institutions’ complaints – and to compare them to those of other institutions, I invite you to get in touch with me at marcia.tal@positivitytech.com. Together, we can turn negatives into positives.