The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has canvassed giving social media comments such as those made on Twitter or Facebook formal complaint status under the internal dispute resolution (IDR) processes required of financial planning firms and superannuation funds.
ASIC had issued a discussion document in which it has not only canvassed the recognition of social media comments, but also an expansion of what represented a complaint to include “expressions of dissatisfaction about staff”.
The discussion paper said ASIC considered the move to be appropriate, “given that long-established patterns in how consumers complain to organisations are changing dramatically”.
“We consider that as consumers move beyond telephone, email and traditional written mediums, financial firms should:
(a) adopt a proactive approach to identifying complaints made on their social media platform(s); and (b) have processes in place (including appropriate links between media and complaints departments) to deal with these matters through their IDR process,” the discussion paper said.
It said that, at a minimum, ASIC expected that “complaints made on a financial firm’s own social media platform(s) will be dealt with through the firm’s IDR process when the consumer is both identifiable and contactable”.
The discussion paper said ASIC’s own research into consumer experiences with financial IDR processes and consumer research conducted by the Central Bank of Ireland indicated that social media was being used by consumers as a complaints channel to financial firms.
“In addition, more general consumer research in the Australian, UK and US markets strongly indicates that social media is being used by many consumers as a preferred channel for customer service interactions with organisations,” it said.