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ASB BANK Tops International Survey

ASB BANK Tops International Customer Complaints Management Survey

New Zealand's ASB Bank has been rated the best organisation for handling customer complaints in a worldwide survey of over 200 major services companies.

The 2001 survey has been conducted across 13 countries by one of the world's premier people strategy and development organisations, TMI. The research covers a range of factors around customer service policy, customer information, attitudes to complaints and training. It provides concrete analysis against which the expectations of complaining customers can be matched to the readiness of organisations to meet, or exceed, them.

TMI New Zealand Managing Director, Leah Fisher says that customers are becoming more aware of their rights and choices and consequently the handling of customer complaints by organisations has become a critical point of differentiation in performance.

"Research shows is it is up to five times more expensive to gain a customer than to keep one, so effective complaints resolution impacts significantly on profitability and growth," she says.

There is a strong relationship between complaints management, service quality and customer satisfaction. A complaint is simply a customer articulating that the product or service offer has fallen short and they need something resolved.

According to TMI's analysis, the performance of ASB Bank in the areas of staff's attitude towards complaints and customer service policies and systems, is rated "world class".

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"No other organisation has achieved the standards that ASB Bank has, which means they set the benchmark for other companies worldwide to follow", says Ms Fisher.

ASB Bank Managing Director, Hugh Burrett, says that they are delighted with the results which prove staff are committed to building and maintaining customer loyalty even when under pressure, and that the processes in place to support them are robust.

"From day one, everyone within ASB Bank knows the high emphasis we place on customer relationships as it defines us as an organisation. This is particularly put to test if we fall short of customer expectations. While it is easy to talk about a "customer first" value, the real issue is whether this forms part of the belief system across all staff.

"For the past four years, the University of Auckland Colgate Report has consistently found ASB Bank to be the leading provider of customer service ahead of the other main banks. It's very rewarding to now be acknowledged internationally as the leading handler of customer complaints, ahead of other organisations and banks on the world stage," says Mr Burrett.

Ms Fisher says leading organisations approach complaints as a key strategic tool.

"While many organisations try to reduce complaints, the research shows that ASB Bank puts great emphasis on making it easy for customers to make their concerns known".

She adds that ASB Bank clearly recognises that managing complaints not only provides a huge opportunity to increase customer loyalty, but also to gain valuable information about how their products, processes and service quality can be improved. Hugh Burrett says that ASB Bank embarked on a program that specifically focused on customer complaints in 1992.

"The survey findings show the programme is clearly working, judging by the strong endorsement from our customer service staff. The payback from our investment is evident in the high satisfaction levels of our customers. They appreciate the ease with which they can lay complaints, and the obvious benefit of noting the changes we make to our processes, to enhance their experience.

The international survey interviewed over 20,000 staff in the 200 companies assessed. Ms Fisher says the survey comprises of staff comment as they are the ones at the frontline interfacing with customers, and understand the true values of the business.

"Over the three years we have run this survey, we have found that staff are the most forthright in identifying strengths and weaknesses in the organisation's customer delivery, particularly as their feedback is anonymous. We received an 86% response rate from the 200 ASB Bank staff surveyed."

This year was the first time New Zealand organisations have been able to participate in the international survey. Nineteen New Zealand based organisations, mainly from the financial services, insurance and utilities sectors participated.

Ms Fisher says that overall New Zealand organisations compared favourably against other countries, but still fall well short of "world class" practice. "Many organisations are increasingly aware of the importance of complaints, but they have yet to embrace the full opportunity a complaint represents in terms of cementing relationships with customers.

"TMI's research shows that the awareness about complaints is good, but the processes and training put in place to meet the challenge are often below standards acceptable to their customers" says Ms Fisher.


For more information on the New Zealand National Complaints Survey, please contact:

About TMI New Zealand: - Appreciating Human Capital

For 25 years TMI has been leading the world in customer service and is recognised as one of the world's premiere people strategy and development organisations.

TMI's world renowned complaints handling development program "A Complaint is a Gift" builds effective complaints handling skills, capability and a "complaints friendly culture within organisations.

TMI. A global organisation with offices in 35 countries has a reputation for developing learning programs and business solutions that fully integrate the needs of people and the business. TMI's global reach, coupled with the fact we work in 16 different languages, makes TMI an ideal international partner for consulting and training.

For more information, go to and


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