NAB appoints independent customer advocate. Sort of.

NAB appoints independent customer advocate

NAB gets serious about customer service and appoints an independent customer advocate 

National Australia Bank (NAB) today announced it has appointed Catherine Wolthuizen as an ‘independent customer advocate’ to support its retail and small business customers in resolving serious complaints.

You’ve got to wonder though just how independent the role is?

Its funded by NAB, and reports directly into the Executive Leadership team.

By NAB’s own words, the role is to make sure they do the right thing when they get it wrong.

Surely a better strategy would be just to invest in the teams that handle the original complaints and make sure they get it right in the first place?

Or empower the complaints team to do more?

The independent Customer Advocate’s role also extends to ensuring “our complaints process is robust, transparent and efficient”.

Typically that function would sit with the Head of Customer Service/Contact Centres so it will be interesting to see how the two roles will work together to bring about an improvement to the customer experience.

Hats off to NAB for looking at innovative ways to improve the customer experience for their customers, I guess time will tell if the investment in this role will actually lead to change or if it is just simply a Public Relations spin.

An emerging trend in Australia has been the appointment of a Chief Customer Experience Officer so whether NAB follows suit or it works in conjunction with thier new Indpendent Customer Advocate remains to be seen.

You can read the full media release below and share your opinion in the comments section.

NAB appoints independent customer advocate

National Australia Bank (NAB) today announced it has appointed Catherine Wolthuizen as an independent customer advocate to support its retail and small business customers in resolving serious complaints.

The Customer Advocate-Banking role has been established as part of NAB’s commitment to the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) industry initiatives to make banking easier and more transparent for our customers and to strengthen and build independence into our complaints process.

NAB Chief Executive Officer Andrew Thorburn said: “We are committed to making it easier for our customers to do business with us. We want to give them confidence that when we get it wrong, we will do the right thing, and resolve and remediate their issues quickly.

“The role will also give our retail and small business customers an independent and stronger voice. It will support them through the resolution of complaints, which can be a difficult time for some customers.

“The Customer Advocate will also hold us to account and play a part in ensuring our complaints process is robust, transparent and efficient. This will help us to get it right the first time for our customers and give them a greater experience.

“Catherine’s extensive consumer advocacy skills and experience in the financial sector makes her a great candidate to take on this role. We look forward to her contribution”.

The role and scope has been verified by an independent third party and specialist in governance and independence activities, the Ethics Centre, to ensure there are no conflicts of interest and from a customer’s perspective that the role will be effective and independent.

The Office of the Customer Advocate will report to the Group Executive, Governance and Reputation and NAB’s Executive Leadership team and will commence operation in August 2016.

NAB Wealth also has an independent customer advocate for its wealth advice complaints process, which was put in place in May 2015.

NAB’s customer service teams remain a customer’s first point of contact for raising complaints or providing feedback.

About Catherine Wolthuizen

Catherine Wolthuizen has over 15 years’ experience representing the interests of consumers, in Australia and overseas. She is a previous chair of the Consumers’ Federation of Australia, the national representative body for consumer organisations, and a former board member of the Insurance Ombudsman Service.

From 2001-2005, she was a member of a number of consumer advisory panels, advising authorities including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and  Consumer Affairs Victoria.  She led financial services policy for consumer organisation Choice between 2001-2005.

Ms Wolthuizen is a former chief executive of charities Public Concern at Work, Fair Trials International and the Consumer Law Centre Victoria. In 2012, Ms Wolthuizen was appointed an Ombudsman to the UK Financial Ombudsman Service, before becoming Head of Market Affairs.

She is a previous member of the independent UK consumer advisory panel to the Legal Services Board, and helped create the Financial Conduct Authority’s Money Advice Service to increase financial capability amongst British consumers.

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Justin Tippett
About Justin Tippett 74 Articles

I'm the founder of CX Group Australia - helping businesses and customer experience professionals to source, deliver and optimise customer experience solutions to drive business outcomes and was named as one of the Top 25 CX Influencers for 2019.


I'm also the person responsible for the memes on the Call Centre Legends page😮


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