SASRA is finalizing the guidelines that will standardize member complaints management, which will be applied across the Sacco sub-sector which is under the regulation of the Authority.
The proposed Guidelines on Complaints Management by Sacco Societies, which were subjected to public and stakeholders’ comments and feedback for 15 days running from March 3, 2023, to March 17, 2023, have defined the duties and responsibilities of each of the parties, steps to be applied when dealing with members’ complaints, and an appropriate member complaint resolution mechanism.
According to SASRA, many Saccos have not put in place an adequate member complaints management framework hence need to put more effort to ensure that Sacco societies treat their customers fairly, quoting the Kenya 2021 FinAccess Household Survey report which indicated that 46.3 percent of Sacco Society members experienced delays in money disbursements, while 26.8 percent experienced a case of poor services.
The Authority further quotes its 2021 Sacco Supervision Report which showed that 42.57 percent of Sacco members experienced delays in accessing the refund of their savings deposits, 12.38 percent experienced delays in loans and loans issuance while 10.40 percent experienced challenges with guarantor and guarantee of loans.
“SASRA aims to ensure Saccos have swift and effective means of redress for their members by utilizing the Guidelines on Complaints Management. These guidelines will also encourage Saccos to take a proactive approach to enhance member satisfaction,” said SASRA CEO Peter Njuguna.
SASRA further states that the guidelines which are designed to assist in achieving standards of excellence in their conduct of business, have been developed with the objective of promoting fairness, integrity, continuous improvement, and upholding the principle of responsibility to treat members fairly.
According to the proposed guidelines, once a complaint is lodged as per the complaint management process, it is supposed to be received and acknowledged by the Sacco thereafter do documentation of the complaint before assessing it.
Thereafter, Sacco is supposed to take action after carrying out its assessment, then do an investigation and also review and authenticate the evidence; before responding or resolving the complaint whereby the file will be closed after the complaint is resolved.
After closing the file, the Sacco will be required to do an audit and review the process and thereafter do a follow-up, with the procedures and mechanisms being uniform in all Saccos that are licensed by SASRA with a view to ameliorating the challenges related to the conduct of business among Saccos.
The Saccos have been instructed to establish effective procedures for receiving, considering, and responding to member complaints which at the minimum are to be member friendly, easily accessible, capable of addressing the complaints adequately, able to provide prompt feedback to the complainant, and able to provide an audit trail report.
Saccos will now be required to adopt, document, and disclose to its members the procedures for the proper handling of complaints and ensure that appropriate remedial action is taken on the complaints promptly.
The procedures shall set out the process for dealing with complaints, including apportionment of responsibility for the actions that led to the complaint including to persons not specifically named in the complaint, timeframe for dealing with a complaint, and timeframe within which to inform the complainant of progress.
It will also include the manner in which the complaint was dealt with which shall not be more than three months, and the right to reference or appeal to the Authority or the tribunal where the complaint cannot otherwise be resolved.
While dealing with Complaints from members, the guidelines state that a Sacco Society shall designate an officer to review and investigate all complaints lodged by members and recommend appropriate remedial action to the CEO of the Sacco Society; handle complaints in a fair, appropriate, and timely manner, and inform the members of the outcome in writing.
Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Sacco Society shall provide where a complaint is justified, appropriate restitution and address the weaknesses in its internal systems that led to the action causing the complaint, and document all the actions it has taken under the complaint’s procedure.
A Sacco society will further be required to maintain an accurate and up-to-date complaints register specifying the date when the complaint is received, the member or any other person from whom a complaint was received, nature of the complaint.
Officer handling the complaint, officer against whom the complaint was made or who was responsible for the action that led to the complaint, progress in handling the complaint, manner or way the complaint was resolved; and time it took to resolve the complaint.
When determining how a complaint should be managed under assessment of the complaint stage, the Sacco Society should assess the issues raised against a number of criteria which include: severity, urgency, complexity, impact on the member and the Sacco, potential to escalate, and whether another organization needs to be involved in resolving the complaint.
By Hezron Roy
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