Delhi Banking Ombudsman’s Flawed Consumer Survey Raises Serious Concerns
Moneylife Digital Team 08 September 2021
A subscriber of Moneylife forwarded to us an email sent by the office of the banking ombudsman, Delhi with a link to an online survey to evaluate the customer satisfaction level with respect to the complaint resolution process of the ombudsman. 
 
Manish Kapoor (name changed) had filed a complaint last year on behalf of his carpenter—Salman Khan (name changed). Mr Khan had taken a loan from the erstwhile Corporation Bank (now merged with the Union Bank of India)  to buy a refrigerator and the equated monthly instalments (EMIs) had  turned into a nightmare for him. 
 
Mr Kapoor wrote to us saying “RBI Ombudsman offices across India have started asking for feedback about a month ago. I have received a mail with the survey link for the complaint I had lodged last year.”  The questionnaire is available at this link: 
 
 
 
He pointed out an obvious flaw in one of the most important questions in  the questionnaire. The questionnaire asks respondents to choose their responses “Considering your experience at this grievance redressal forum, kindly rate your level of agreement with the following statements. Kindly rate from 1 to 5, where 1 denotes strongly disagree and 5 denotes strongly agree”
 
The flawed fifth question is mandatory and reads : "Overall, I am satisfied with the resolution of my complaint at the Office of the Banking Ombudsman *"
 
There is an empty text box below it to choose the rating from the drop-down list but the rating choice in drop-down is limited to only one option and that is ‘5’. This is a perfect example of ‘my way’ or ‘the highway’. Thus, respondents do not have the option to respond with a rating of anything other than ‘5’ (strongly agree). 
 
This in-built 'agreement bias' or 'conformity bias' means that they are being arm-twisted and forced to say that they are satisfied with the resolution of their complaints even when they might not be satisfied. The net result is that the survey results would portray a skewed analysis that consumers appear to be happier than they are with the Ombudsman resolution. 
 
 
Mr Kapoor had reached nearly the end of the survey when he realised that the question is flawed. He refused to fill in the answer for that question and finally ended up not submitting the survey response. 
 
It is not clear whether the Delhi office of Banking Ombudsman is trying to game the feedback or it is a technical error. It is, indeed, surprising that a questionnaire with such a flaw was rolled out without adequate testing and checks. But one thing is clear that the responses will be collated and will lead to flawed conclusions and inferences which will then be presented by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its banking ombudsman annual report and showcased proudly to announce that 100% customers are happy and satisfied with the resolution of their complaints to the Delhi office of banking ombudsman when the ground reality may actually be quite different.
 
Essentially, the banking ombudsman, Delhi office is pushing for the answers they want their higher-ups to see. But this is not scientific data collection. It is public relations or marketing. Either way, it is what we call gaming the system. Ombudsman reports are strangely complimentary to themselves.
 
The flawed question is restricted to the customer satisfaction survey rolled out by Delhi office of the banking ombudsman. Moneylife has accessed a similar survey from the Banking Ombudsman, Kanpur and it has multiple options from 1 to 5 as answers and is worded correctly.
 
 
In the annual report of the banking ombudsman released on 17 December 2019, RBI had mentioned that it had conducted a feedback collection exercise of those who have registered a complaint with the banking ombudsman through Karvy Data Management Limited. 
 
A similar questionnaire seems to have been used then. RBI's banking ombudsman annual report had stated “A third-party survey has shown overall satisfaction level of 73% among complainants under BOS, which RBI will strive to improve further.” 
 
The questionnaire checked on the source through which the respondent got to know about the ombudsman scheme (print media, friends / family, electronic media, internet and others), rating on a scale of five (1-strongly disagree and 5 – strongly agree) on the following:
 
1) Process of lodging complaint with BO was simple and easy
 
2) Complaint was resolved in reasonable time (60 days)
 
3) Ombudsman tried to promote a settlement of the complaint by agreement between the complainant and the bank through conciliation and mediation
 
4) Escalating a complaint against any deficiency of service to the Ombudsman drives the service provider to redress the complaint immediately
 
5) Overall satisfaction with the resolution of complaint.
 
Suggestion of the respondent is also solicited at the end of the questionnaire.
 
 
 
The banking ombudsman scheme is a very important channel for redressal of grievances by the general public against banks and banking services. Moneylife has published a detailed article on https://www.moneylife.in/article/how-to-register-a-complaint-against-your-bank-with-the-banking-ombudsman/62102.html
Comments
bhaskar.jain
3 weeks ago
They seem to have fixed it now
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