The Smart Campaign’s most recent Smart Note focuses on the work of Tameer Bank, one of the largest microfinance institutions in Pakistan, and its in-house call center. The call center, the Tameer Customer Service Unit, began in response to an uptick of client delinquency in 2007. Tameer wanted to find ways to address client needs and reduce delinquency through a direct channel through which Tameer and its clients could communicate. The call center is a two-way channel, allowing Tameer to communicate and verify information with clients, and allowing clients to reach Tameer to ask questions and lodge complaints.
Tameer uses the call center to connect with clients at various stages of the credit lifecycle. Prior to receiving a loan, clients are called as part of a verification process where issues such as inappropriate loan size, multiple borrowing and repayment capacity can be flagged. This can help to avoid over-indebtedness. After receiving a loan, clients receive automated text message reminders from the call center about their payments, and if clients are delinquent the center calls to understand why and take steps to prevent future delinquency. Tameer noted that since the launch of the call center, delinquency has decreased markedly.
Clients use the call center for grievance redressal and as a general information hotline. Having a formal mechanism for receiving clients’ complaints is one of the Client Protection Principles that is often overlooked by financial institutions, particularly small ones who believe that problems can be resolved through informal means. Tameer managers note that the process of receiving complaints has not only allowed them to address individual problems but also to reveal trends such as breakdowns in customer service or to identify poorly trained staff. In addition to complaints, the call center has become a way for clients or potential clients to ask clarifying questions about Tameer’s products and policies.
In the Smart Note, Tameer Bank stressed how important it is for clients to feel that they have a relationship with the bank as an institution, so that they can appeal to someone other than their loan officer. Prompt resolution of complaints and questions is an important part of ensuring that the client has a good experience with the institution, as clients are the bank’s most effective ambassadors.
Do the readers of this blog have any stories to share about the client protection functions of a microfinance call-center?
Read the full smart note here.
Image Credit: Tameer Bank
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