2020–21 Annual Review

Customer service

AFCA is focused on delivering a world-class ombudsman service that meets the diverse needs of the Australian community. This starts with our commitment to deliver excellent customer service. We aim to provide all parties with an accessible, impartial, timely and respectful service they can rely on.

In total, we received 128,661 phone calls to our dedicated consumer line, 18,433 calls to our membership line and 4,214 calls to our COVID-19 support line.

The average call waiting time was just 36 seconds. This is a fantastic achievement that ensures AFCA is available to help consumers, small businesses and financial firms, and to answer questions about their complaints and our service.

AFCA also provides an online Live Chat function for consumers and small businesses that need real- time answers to pressing queries. This service is available weekdays between 9 am and 5 pm AEST, and in the last financial year we received more than 14,000 online live chat messages.

The Live Chat function allows us to provide consumers with information about AFCA, general guidance on what type of complaints we can and can’t consider, and what type of information a consumer will need to provide if they decide to lodge a complaint.

128,661 calls to our consumer and small business phone

18,433 calls to our membership phone line

4,214 calls to our COVID-19 support line

36 seconds average wait time

86% of calls answered within 90 seconds

3,451 complaints lodged over the phone

13,183 complaints lodged via email

14,393 online live chats

2,543 customers were provided with extra assistance in lodging complaints

Stellar Achievement Award at SOCAP Industry Awards

In recognition of his outstanding customer service work, AFCA’s Customer Service Team Manager Steven Short was presented with the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) Stellar Achievement Award in 2021.

The award was announced at the 2021 SOCAP Symposium and acknowledges an individual for their significant contribution to improving customer service.

Steven has led a range of projects to enhance AFCA’s service, driving a culture of exceptional customer experience at our front line. He was instrumental in refining AFCA’s customer service, designing and implementing new service standards, a quality assurance model, customer-centric performance indicators and improving AFCA’s response to significant events including natural disasters.

Providing an accessible service

AFCA is committed to providing a service that is accessible to everyone, including giving those using our service the information they need in a format that works for them.

We are particularly focused on ensuring vulnerable and disadvantaged people can readily use our service. In line with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), AFCA is committed to providing information and services in a non-discriminatory way.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss the types of assistance we can provide, or facilitate, to help parties to a complaint interact with us in the way that best meets their needs.

We provide the following accessibility services:

  • a free translator, if English is not the complainant’s first language (including Auslan)
  • more flexibility with our process requirements
  • referral to community support services
  • complainants can contact us through the National Relay Service using:
    • TTY/Speak and Read
    • Voice Relay (previously known as Speak and Listen)
    • NRS Chat (previously known as Internet Relay).

Complainants can also nominate email (or post) as their preferred method of communication.

Mental health

We seek to understand if people experiencing mental health issues see this as affecting their ability to engage with us to resolve their dispute.

Complainants can choose to:

  • nominate email (or post) as their preferred method of communication
  • lodge their dispute over the phone.

Language

We can provide information about our services in different languages.

Complainants can write to us in their preferred language, and we will have their correspondence translated free of charge.

At no charge, we can arrange for our correspondence to be translated into the complainant’s preferred language.

In 2020–21, we launched improved online resources in languages other than English to make it easier for all communities to access financial dispute resolution. The resources included a series of videos featuring AFCA’s own people speaking their first language.

We also increased our professionally translated resources from 14 languages to 20 (including English).

Since launching in November 2018, AFCA has received around 700 requests for an interpreter, with AFCA providing this service free of charge in over 75 different languages.

Vision

  • Our website supports screen readers, and font sizes can be adjusted as needed.
  • We can mail a dispute form to complainants in a large font size, for example – 16 points or larger.
  • We can print our correspondence in a large font size, for example – 16 points or larger.
  • Disputes can be lodged over the phone.

Accessibility and Inclusion Network

In 2020, AFCA formed an Accessibility and Inclusion Network, composed of over 40 passionate people across three priority areas: Reconciliation, Mental Health and Pride.

Network groups will proactively identify ways to increase the accessibility of our service. They will also consider internal practices and initiatives that support our culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging.

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Please be advised we cannot provide you with financial or legal advice. However, we may be able to refer you to a community legal centre or financial counselling service if you need help.

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