SBP issues revised regulatory instructions on call center management

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KARACHI, Apr 01 (APP): State bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued revised and consolidated regulatory instructions on call center management for convenience of costumers and security of their data.

All banks and financial institutions would ensure to deploy toll-free numbers, reduction of call wait time, confidentiality of the customers’ data and periodic reporting on performance of call centers to a senior level management committee and compliance of other requirement by June 30, 2021.

The central bank, through a circular issued by Banking Conduct and Consumer Protection Department on Thursday, directed all banks to frame a comprehensive policy and Standard Operating Procedures on call center management duly approved by their Board of Directors and CEO, respectively.

Banks that have outsourced their call centers will ensure compliance with the SBP’s existing instructions on outsourcing while the supervision function like quality assurance checks of call center should not be outsourced.

Further, banks would ensure that the confidentiality of the customers’ data is sufficiently protected through appropriate oversight and security clauses in the contract.

The SBP stresses to have an independent reporting line where banks will ensure periodic reporting on performance of call centers to a senior level management committee- having explicit terms of reference for monitoring the overall service quality and performance of call centers- at least on quarterly basis.

All banks would deploy toll-free numbers for their call centers and also conduct consumer testing/ consumer recalls at least on an annual basis to assess customer awareness regarding call centers and take actions for improvement where required.

“Measures should be taken to reduce the call wait time as much as possible to avoid inconvenience to the customers”, it said adding that banks should develop key performance indicators for different types of calls. However, the call wait time for lost, stolen or blocked cards request should not be more than one minute, it maintains.

‘Card lost/ Card stolen/ Card Block’ request should be the first option on IVR menu after call connects to the call centers of the banks.

Further, the customers should also be provided with an automated option for blocking of cards, accounts or digital channels preferably through TPIN. Besides, the banks are encouraged to introduce IVR options for regional languages while ensuring availability of appropriate resources for such options.

The banks should ensure that call agents do not refuse to lodge complaint of the callers. It should also be ensured that a complaint number is provided to all complainants through SMS/ email.

Banks should also ensure that the complaints received through the call center are properly recorded in the Complaint Management System (CMS), through appropriate automation, the circular directed.

Further, it should be ensured that all call centers have feedback option and the caller are adequately informed and encouraged to provide their feedback through the given option.

The banks could play awareness messages during call wait time but they would not market their products or services except on toll free number.

In order to ensure confidentiality of consumers’ data, banks will put in place adequate controls at their call centers including but not limited to continuous CCTV vigilance, physical entry and exit checks, non-accessibility to portable devices or cell phones, controlled accessibility to printers, emails, etc.

Banks are advised to devise an appropriate mechanism to allow their call center staff access to customers’ data on a “Need-to-Know” basis e.g. restricted to the customers contacting the call center. Proper logs of this access to customer’s information should be maintained and periodically monitored preferably through automated/ artificial intelligent surveillance.

Banks should have adequate IT controls, contingency and disaster recovery set-ups for their call centers and they should ensure adequate staffing with proper training particularly on digital fraud management, relevant policies and initiatives of banks and query and complaint handling.

Recording of all inbound and outbound calls at the call centers will at least be retained for one year. The custodian of these call recordings and archival/ retrieval mechanism may explicitly be developed and monitored while ensuring that only relevant officials have access to such records.

Banks should also assess the performance of their call centers through monitoring tools like mystery calls, customers’ feedback as well as call center own staff’s feedback, at least once a year. Service quality and data confidentiality of call center should also be assessed reviewed annually by the banks’ internal audit function.