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SBP urges banks to deploy toll-free nos. for call centres

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KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has said that growing importance of call centres in bank-customer relationship makes it imperative for the banks to efficiently manage their call centres, encouraging the banks to deploy toll-free numbers for their call centres.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the central bank said that recently it conducted a thematic review of the call centre management at banks. It said that call centres are rapidly becoming customers’ top choice to communicate with their banks.
Over time, the use of call centres by customers to seek information, guidance and redressal of complaints from their banks has increased significantly. On the other hand, the technological advancements are helping the banks to provide self-banking solutions through call centres.
In the light of findings of the review, the SBP issued regulatory instructions to banks on call centre management. Some of the key instructions are as follows:
To bring ease in lodging complaints, all the banks are encouraged to deploy toll-free numbers for their call centres, besides making sure that call centre numbers are displayed prominently on banks’ premises and websites. Banks are also required to take measures to reduce the call wait time i.e. the time before connecting to an agent, as much as possible to avoid inconvenience to the customers. Further, banks will also ensure that call agents do not refuse to lodge complaints and a proper complaint number is provided to all the complainants.
To ensure confidentiality of consumers’ data, banks will put in place adequate controls at their call centres including continuous CCTV vigilance, physical entry and exit checks, restriction on portable devices like cell phones, controlled accessibility to printers and emails. Banks will allow their call center staff access to customers’ data on a ‘Need-to-Know’ basis only i.e. restricted only to the customers contacting the call center. Proper logs of access to customer’s information will be maintained and monitored to detect unauthorized access. Moreover, banks will ensure masking of the Credit or Debit card numbers so that the call agents could only view the last four digits of the cards.
The SBP has also instructed banks to deploy sufficient call centre resources to ensure a satisfactory customer experience. For this, the banks will have adequate IT controls and contingency and disaster recovery set-ups for their call centres. All inbound and outbound calls at the call centres will be recorded and the record will be retained at least for one year.
Banks will also ensure that their call centres are adequately staffed with proper training, particularly on digital fraud management, relevant policies and initiatives of banks and query and complaint handling.
To improve call centre management, banks will have proper policy and oversight mechanisms in place and performance will be regularly monitored. The banks will put in place key performance indicators for reviewing performance of call centres with appropriate benchmarks as per international best practices. Banks will also have a comprehensive policy and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on call centre management duly approved by their Board of Directors and CEO. Banks are required to comply with SBP instructions by June 30, 2021. – TLTP