The Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS), Reana Steyn, has shown her appreciation to banks that have best co-operated with her office in resolving customers’ complaints.
At the OBS Annual Banking Awards ceremony in Johannesburg on 24 November, Steyn, recognised those banks and their staff that had delivered excellent service and performance judged on how they handled disputes during the OBS’s 2022/23 financial year.
The ceremony, which has been an annual event for the past 17 years, was the last of its kind. This is because a new ombudsman scheme for the financial services industry comes into effect next year. On 1 March 2024 the four voluntary financial ombud schemes – the OBS, Long-term Insurance Ombudsman, Credit Ombud and Short-Term Insurance Ombudsman – will amalgamate into a single new entity.
“In as much as the OBS has functioned as an independent non-profit organisation, and the banks recognise the authority of the ombudsman, the work that we do – and the work ombudsmen under the new system will do – cannot be fully accomplished without the co-operation of all the banks involved,” Steyn said.
“We have set measurable standards for the banks, which have reflected our values in promising to deliver free, impartial and speedy resolution of banking complaints,” she said.
This year’s winning banks
There were two categories, A (big banks) and B (smaller banks), in the OBS Annual Banking Awards.
For both categories, the criteria were:
- The quality of the bank’s written replies to the office in response to specific complaints;
- The response time; and
- The overall fairness of the response.
In category A, which comprises the “big” banks, the nominees were ABSA, FNB, and Standard Bank. The 2023 award went to FNB.
In category B, the nominees were Investec, Postbank and Access Bank, and the award went to Investec.
Bank staffer awards
Individual effort was also recognised with an award for bank staff members who impressed with their consistently excellent service. The following criteria were applied:
- Treating all complainants with equal dignity and respect and affording all complaints the necessary level of attention;
- Providing prompt and efficient service to the complainant and the OBS;
- Initiating and/or improving measures and/or service level agreements to enhance their bank’s level of service in complaints handling; and
- Being knowledgeable about the bank’s products, service and processes, including internal complaints handling mechanisms as well as those of the OBS.
The winners were Karen Jonker from ABSA Bank and Elias Mier from Postbank.
OBS staffer award
For several years, the ceremony has also included an award for an OBS staff member. This award goes to the employee who represents the OBS’s internal and cultural values, and who is judged by his or her peers to go beyond the call of duty. The 2023 OBS staff member winner was Palesa Zwane.
“This has always been the highlight for me because this nomination is about the OBS employees recognising one another. It is about the team member, as voted for by the team. I am proud to congratulate Palesa as this year’s winning staff member,” Steyn said.