Announcing The Inside PositivityTech Benchmark Reports

Which competitors do you track daily? Which companies in your space are gaining an unexpected edge? Today, we’re thrilled to announce the Inside PositivityTech Benchmark Report ©, a brand new category of competitive intelligence based on customer narratives, which measures your “complaint share” relative to a benchmark group and the industry. Unlike other reports, the Inside PositivityTech Benchmark Report features:

  • A new category of competitive benchmarking, based on your customers’ narratives
  • Customized logic for creating institutions’ benchmark groups
  • Market comparisons across companies and products over time
  • Industry and market trends based on customers’ voices

Uncovering new competitors in our new reality

COVID-19 has transformed our world, and with it, your market share has changed, too. While 2019 saw stability, external events from the pandemic in 2020 have led to major changes across the industry.

Our proprietary tools ingest customer narratives and extract critical intelligence, making it possible for the Inside PositivityTech Benchmark Reports to reveal the information that institutions need to know about their shifting space. The report highlights comparisons across products and companies, the severity of your complaints, leading indicators of environmental risks, potential for bias, and the impact of COVID — and shows important changes over time.

  • Severity Score: Identifies severe complaints and future risk based on customer narratives.
  • Bias Index: Identifies prejudice within customer and employee complaints and makes it possible to prevent systemic discrimination.
  • Trigger Notifications: Algorithms that reveal leading indicators of environmental risks to enable preemptive management actions.

How to use Inside PositivityTech Benchmark Reports

When you can identify and understand the specific problems described in your customer complaints as compared to your competitors’, you can predict future risks and reveal unexpected opportunities that keep your institution ahead of your competition. There are multiple applications for competitive intelligence derived from your customers’ narratives, including:

  • Internal improvements in processes, features and product development
  • Competitive opportunities and threats
  • External monitoring and strategic investments

With the Inside PositivityTech Benchmark Reports, you will be able to:

1. Identify your partners’ customer pain points in order to improve your collaboration

While partners bring innovation, expertise, scale, and speed to market into products and processes, they also can introduce risks. It is incumbent on your institution to understand and monitor your partners’ customer voices. Evaluating their customer complaints provides you with additional monitoring capabilities.

2. Pinpoint COVID-19 issues, complaints, and resolutions

With PositivityTech® “keyword intelligence” from COVID-19-related customer complaints, you can identify major issues with which your customers are struggling, see how well your institution is resolving issues compared to your competitors, get ahead of future issues, and help your customers through difficult times.

3. Identify changes over time

Every institution can pinpoint another company that may not have seemed like a threat at one point, but then made inroads into their market share. For example, a recent article in Forbes discusses how Chime is currently leading with a 35% share of digital bank checking accounts, as compared to Ally Bank’s 9% share.

With the Inside PositivityTech Benchmark Reports, you will be able to:

4. Uncover your “complaint share”

Monitoring your “complaint share,” a new variable that showcases your customer complaints and competitors’ customer complaints, can protect you from major risks. You can measure your “complaint share” relative to the benchmark group and the industry, track its changes over time, and understand where to apply your attention.

Subscribe to Inside PositivityTech Benchmark Reports

What is your “complaint share”? In today’s fast-changing world, you need to know. You do not want to be surprised when a competitor eases into your leading position. Our cutting-edge Inside PositivityTech Benchmark Reports will give you the critical information to understand where you’re leading and where you might be losing your edge.

Subscribe to our Inside PositivityTech Benchmark Reports now to see how your institution compares to others, based on intelligence from customer narratives. Please email me at marcia.tal@positivitytech.com to gain access to these reports.

Wishing you and your families a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!


How Global Crises Impact Your Customers

With the news cycle especially intense this year, headline items are impacting many of us personally — and its effects are trickling into our institutions, too. Using the PositivityTech platform, institutions are finding that their customer complaints focus on the current economic, social, and health crises — and display interconnected impacts. This critical information can be used as business intelligence when making decisions.

A Web Of Interconnected Issues

An analysis of 17 large financial institutions, which we’ll call the targeted subset, revealed the following interconnected effects on customers complaining to the CFPB.

Economic Impact: Percentage of customer complaints related to the economic impact of COVID-19 within the past year

  • Targeted subset: 10%
  • All financial institutions: 2%

Health Impact: Percentage of customer complaints that include issues about health, health insurance, or medical conditions within the past year

  • Targeted subset: 3%
  • All financial institutions: 4%

Social Impact: Percentage of customer complaints that individuals chose to make public within the past year – a trend that is increasing during the crises

  • Targeted subset: 43%
  • All financial institutions: 38%

Now, let’s look at how customer complaints highlight, in their own words, these crises’ negative impacts on their customer experience:

A Customer Complaint About The Economic Crisis

“Due to COVID-19, I am currently laid off… and requested assistance from XX. I asked them to defer payments as per PA Cares. They refused assistance, just kept asking for payments. They showed no empathy and did not even ask how I was affected.”

With economic stimulus payments, deferrals, and forbearance programs skewing credit scoring algorithms, financial institutions are actively looking for alternative data sources to inform their credit decisions. Customer complaints like this one are viable data sources, which are currently underutilized by banks.

A Customer Complaint About The Health Crisis

“I was laid off from work when I was hospitalized. When I was well enough, I reached out to XX to explain and notify that I have missed the payment due to being in a COVID-19 impacted area and being hospitalized and asked if I could get an extension on payments with no late fees and interest payments, which I was told would be honored, until my health insurance was being debited and the card declined due to the fact that XX charged me late fees and interest fees… and locked the card… I was extremely ill and this is the time that they chose to take advantage of me.”

With PositivityTech, banks find that complaints that mention the current crisis have especially high Severity Scores, our proprietary score that identifies severe complaints and future risks based on customer narratives.

A Customer Complaint About The Social Crisis

“My credit file was breached years ago without any compensation. I completed all the appropriate documentation and I am still trying to get my V.A. loan that I have rightly earned. Why can I not get my V.A. loan by no fault of my own? Why should my family continue to stay in a hotel since I cannot obtain one? Why will XX not take their knee off the necks of            Americans, particularly my neck? I am begging to have these inquiries, and you all will not let me breathe.  Could you all show God’s kindness to            who risked his life fighting for a country I love dearly?” 

In this complaint, the customer, who is also a veteran, has used George Floyd’s powerful language to highlight the biases that he is facing at his bank, and the current crises’ interconnected impacts on him and his family. PositivityTech’s algorithms are sensitive to the fact that financial institutions’ customer complaints reflect language highlighted in the media. The media, as we have seen, also highlights customer complaint language.

Your Customers’ Voices Are Leading Indicators

We should expect that global events will reveal their impact within our own institutions. To truly understand how our external environment is impacting your business, listen to your customers. The leading indicator is what your customers are telling you.

To explore the critical messages within your financial institutions’ complaints – and to compare them to those of other institutions, I invite you to get in touch with me at marcia.tal@positivitytech.com. Together, we can turn negatives into positives.


A Trigger That Uncovers The Competition You Never Considered

Complaints about money transfers are on the rise. The PositivityTechⓇ platform’s proprietary trigger process alerts our clients of the growing industry triggers derived from customers’ “voices” and provides a market comparison of the issues triggered.

This month, the problem of adding money during a money transfer was one of the top issues triggered, and the market comparison of this issue identified that only one traditional bank, “Bank A,” is facing this challenge. Other complaints about this issue came from customers of recently launched fintech companies, which we’ll call “Digital Payment Companies.”

Identify your growing problem and competition

Customer complaints about the inability to add money during the transfer process are still relatively small in volume, increasing as digital money transfers become more mainstream.

  • 81% of all complaints about money transfer issues come from Bank A.
  • 14% of all complaints about money transfer issues come from Digital Payment Companies.

The following complaint comes from a Bank A customer:

“My monthly statement came in and I was told that I could connect my [Bank A] account to my X to make a payment for my credit card balance. When I went to add my [Bank A] to my X online payments, it stated that [Bank A] has made a change that prevents you from being able to link your accounts.”

The following is a complaint about this issue from a Digital Payment Company customer:

“Adding money to my verified [Digital Payment Company] account in good standing from a confirmed and active previously used bank account is being blocked without explanation and without reason. I tried numerous times with the same error message.”

Both customer complaints, while originating from very different organizations, reveal a similar industry issue: Customers are unable to complete their digital payments. Perhaps there have been recent bank policy changes related to linking accounts? Complaints highlight the downstream effects of policy changes, which are often not considered.

Understand your competition

By exploring customer complaints about issues surrounding money transfers in retail banking, you will be able to uncover alternate competitors – competitors you may not be considering. From an “outside in” perspective, understanding your multiple and varying competitors provides actionable intelligence that makes it possible to answer the following questions:

  • How do your complaints compare?
  • Who is in your complaint peer group?
  • What policies or processes need to be addressed?
  • What actions should you take?

Predict your financial institution’s challenges

The PositivityTech platform’s proprietary trigger process can also help predict whether money transfers may become an issue for other financial institutions as well. In addition to analyzing how Bank A’s extreme share of complaints compares to other institutions, you can also compare the following per institution:

  • Severity of complaints
  • Identification of bias within complaints
  • Geographic breakdown of complaints
  • Product breakdown of complaints
  • Issue breakdown of complaints
  • Complaint narratives

With this information, financial institutions can analyze the root cause of complaints, find leading indicators of complaints, and predict up-and-coming competitors, as well as the issues that your institution may face.

Prevent challenges

With our proprietary trigger process, financial institutions can be alerted to new and recently changing issues, even when small in volume, and gain a competitive advantage. As the analytic process unfolds, financial institutions can adopt actions to inhibit future complaints. If you’re interested in uncovering the issues and competition your institution may never have considered, please reach out to me at marcia.tal@positivitytech.com. I look forward to hearing from you.


Answering The Need For Better Complaint Categorization

We’ve all experienced this: we call our bank with an issue that needs to be addressed, and we’re transferred from one department to the next. With each transfer, we become more frustrated. We may lose trust in our banks, complain to regulatory bodies, and close our accounts. With the PositivityTech proprietary Categorization solution, we make it possible for banks to recognize and solve customers’ issues.

The issue is never the issue

In our conversations with financial institution executives, they, too, share their frustration about categorizing customer complaints and addressing root causes. These are the pain points:

  1. Customers are prompted to select a single category that summarizes their issue — whether or not that category specifically captures their problem.
  2. As a result, many banks are forced to manually switch their customers’ categories.
  3. This creates an inefficient process and inconsistent categorizations.
  4. Problems ensue with customers, who are frustrated, and regulators, who seek accuracy, fairness, and consistency.

Uncovering the real issue and finding the right solution

The PositivityTech platform’s Categorization solution bridges the gap between the issues that customers select and what they actually say. By analyzing more than one million complaints and applying advanced analytic techniques, we developed the Categorization solution to extract the multiple issues nested within a single complaint. For example, the excerpt of the complaint below addresses multiple issues aside from the category the individual chose:

Category chosen: “Trouble during payment process”

Please find my complaint against X Loan Servicing for fraud; theft of the loan; identity theft; conspiracy to defraud; violation of TILA, RESPA, UCC, and RICO Act; and other misconduct.

As you can see, the complaint would need to be manually rerouted from the payment processing unit, based on the category the individual chose, to the fraud resolution unit.

In our analysis, we found the more categories a complaint triggers, the higher the customer’s Severity Score, a proprietary score that identifies severe complaints and future risk based on customer narratives.

  • Complaints that trigger more than one category make up 91% of all complaints.
  • Complaints that trigger exactly one category reveal a Severity Score that is 60% better than the average Severity Score.
  • Complaints that trigger more than one category reveal a Severity Score that is 5% worse than the average Severity Score.

A digital transformation that meets our customers’ needs

With our Categorization solution, we have created a consistent and multifaceted grouping of customer complaints that provides insights to identify relevant resolutions across all customer touchpoints, from digital to in-person.

With digital banking here to stay, banks are under pressure to make their digital operations smarter — and to find ways to accurately solve their customers’ issues. With the Categorization solution, we have made it possible for banks to pinpoint the right solutions for their customers, which is a win-win for customers and banks.

If you’re interested in exploring how our Categorization solution can help your financial institution effectively solve your customers’ issues, I’d be happy to analyze a number of complaints with you. Please connect with me at marcia.tal@positivitytech.com. I look forward to speaking with you.


Three Months Later: The Growing Impact Of COVID-19 On Banks And Customers

The emergence of the coronavirus health crisis has negatively impacted financial institutions’ ability to help their customers. Consumers are beginning to complain loudly and are not afraid to publicly air their complaints.

Using the PositivityTech intelligent platform, we explored Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaints submitted since March 10th and found that approximately 7% of complaints are COVID-19 related. While small in number, the issues featured in their complaints are distinct from non-COVID-19 related complaints, and will continue to grow.

The CFPB’s COVID-19-related complaints are gaining attention because they highlight critical issues in our financial institutions, as seen in this recent Consumer Reports letter to Citi about their rise in customer complaints. Systemic issues that are cause for concern — and plague many banks — include:

More people are submitting narrative complaints

While personally identifiable information is masked by the CFPB, customers typically do not agree to have their complaints publicized. However, the number of published narratives has more than doubled since March 10th, revealing a behavioral shift. People are more frustrated and are now actively sharing their complaints.

  • 12% of complaints included written narratives before the pandemic.
  • 31% of complaints included written narratives since the pandemic began.

COVID-19 related complaints are different from those that are not related to the pandemic

Utilizing our proprietary analytic methodologies with the PositivityTech platform, we explored COVID-19-related complaints and compared them to non-COVID-19-related complaints, and found that the top 10 complaints for each group were very different.

  • While 70% of complaints share issues with credit bureau reporting, customers impacted by the pandemic are struggling to make payments — particularly their mortgage payments, which represent half of those complaints.

Negative interactions with financial institutions

While customers have continued to exhibit trust in their banks, turning to them for support in times of crisis, their takeaways have been disappointing.

1. Banks do not appear to have contingency plans in place

Like many of our institutions, financial institutions are overwhelmed. During the pandemic, they are managing deferred loan repayments, the allocation of Paycheck Protection Program loans, and the pandemic’s financial impact on customers. Meanwhile, customers have complained about banks’ lack of preparedness, sharing that their banks were not ready to meet a global crisis. One customer complaint captures this prevalent feeling:

I have contacted X in regards to applying for a two interest payment adjustment and for a deferment on the monthly payments. An associate advised that the bank has no plan in place. I live in the state of New York and we are deeply affected by COVID-19. This is unacceptable and X should have a contingent plan in place for such a catastrophe.

2. Approved payment deferrals that are not being recognized by credit bureaus will lead to greater problems

Even when a financial institution agrees to a delayed payment, customers complain that their credit reports are adversely affected, resulting in delinquencies and/or lower credit scores. These issues can drive negative scrutiny.

  • 20% of complaints about incorrect information came from COVID-19-related complaints that revealed:
    • A drop in their credit score even after requesting forbearance
    • Negative remarks on their credit reports

One customer shared:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was adversely affected financially and contacted X, who agreed to a 3-month deferral of payments and would not report that my account was delinquent or charge a late fee. Notwithstanding the agreement, X reported to all credit bureau agencies that my account was in violation of the agreement.

3. Dynamic state policies drive cancellations and refund issues

New laws and guidance that are created “on the fly” differ by state, resulting in customer frustrations about refunds. These types of transactions are expected to increase as each state deals with its infection rates separately.

I used my X credit card to purchase two tickets to a concert. The concert was cancelled due to COVID-19. X said that the concert is not cancelled, but postponed so they won’t refund the ticket plus fees. I contested the charges posted on my statement due to “service not rendered.” I received a letter from the bank denying the reversal of charges, stating that they are not responsible for misrepresentation of merchants who I chose to do business with. Is this not the definition of “service not rendered”? The bank says, “This is not a bank issue.”

4. Customers believe financial institutions are using predatory lending practices

COVID-19-related customer complaints share perceptions that banks are taking advantage of customers — and these complaints may eventually find their way to regulating bodies. One customer wrote:

I contacted the company stating that I’ve been laid off because of the pandemic. I’m having a hard time paying any bill. They reported negative remarks on the credit report. I told them that payments cannot be made if income is not coming in until the pandemic is over. They stated whatever money to send in with a high interest rate on a daily basis. At this rate, I’ll owe 3x the amount on loan. [This is] predatory lending.

5. Those who are ill believe they are victims of bias

Customers state that some financial institutions use screening procedures to keep track of consumer expenses and then suspend their services illegally. In order to avoid this misrepresentation, banks must practice greater transparency and improve their communications about their risk mitigation strategy. These types of complaints are high-risk and can result in negative attention. Here is one such complaint:

At the beginning of COVID-19, I received an email from X, simply stating that they closed my credit card account. I wrote to them saying that I did not want my account closed, that I had guarded that credit card carefully and kept it only for emergencies… I had no balance on that card… Now I do not have that safety net… My credit score at the time was approximately 800. There was absolutely no justification or cause. They apparently profiled me and somehow learned I was sick… which is in violation of some disabilities law.

With the PositivityTech platform, we are able to identify, understand, and predict systemic issues that financial institutions are facing during this global crisis, and create strategies to prevent these issues in the future. If you are interested in exploring the pandemic’s impact on your financial institution’s customers, please contact me at marcia.tal@positivitytech.com.

Negative input can have a positive impact, and ultimately, strengthen our institutions.