How we deal with complaints at TransferWise

Complaints and Disputes Team
18.04.19
4 minute read

At TransferWise, we’ve been growing at speed - we now transfer over £3 billion every month! But we’re constantly trying to improve and bring our service to more and more people around the world. As we add more currencies, countries and features to our product, some customers may run into issues and may not be entirely happy with the service we’ve provided. Regulators are rightly ensuring that companies like us have to act and report on these complaints. We’re all for transparency in finance, so we see this complaints report as an opportunity to analyse the data, and share how we solve customer complaints and act on the feedback.

TransferWise’s Complaints and Disputes Team is committed to having a transparent process in place to make sure that our customers always get a fair solution when they have concerns. These complaints also give us a reason to look at our product more closely, and make the changes our customers need the most.

What constitutes a complaint? At TransferWise, we follow the FCA’s definition. This means that every time a customer is unhappy with our services, they feel we have fallen short in preventing the issue or wronged them in some way, or they feel we’ve caused them either financial loss/distress and/or emotional distress, we consider this to be a complaint.

We collect data on all complaints, but we’ll differentiate between two types in this blog:

  • Escalated complaints — When a customer has taken the issue to a dispute body and one of our complaints officers works on or assists with resolving the complaint.
  • Non-escalated complaints — When a customer has issued a complaint or raised a concern, but we’ve resolved it without the help of a dispute resolution body and possibly without an in-house complaints officer.

A dispute resolution body is different for each region so we’ve noted down possible contact details for every customer in our Complaints Procedure here. As an example, customers based in the UK would usually turn to the UK Financial Ombudsman Service.

Onwards to details!

numbers

Crunching complaints numbers

On average, our customers issue a complaint in 1 in every 33,000 transfers.

Below, we categorised the complaints based on the issues our customers faced.

Complaint category January February March April Quarter average %
Payment related 23.2% 13,4% 21.7% 28.7% 21.8%
Product related 32.4% 18.8% 17.8% 23.8% 23.2%
KYC related 34.6% 41.6% 37.6% 28.7% 35.6%
External 8.1% 10.9% 14.0% 10.4% 10.9%
Other 1.6% 15.3% 8.9% 8.5% 8.6%

Explainer

Payment related - The money didn’t arrive as expected, either to TransferWise or to the recipient.

Product related - An issue with our app or website.

KYC related - “Know your customer”, anything related to the mandatory background checks and due diligence that TransferWise as a regulated financial institution has to conduct.

External factors and partners - Problems caused by TransferWise’s banking partners and sending bank issues or receiving bank issues.

Other - By definition, this is a broad category. It includes, for example, mistakes made by our customer support team, but also covers instances where a customer made an error.

change-plans

Making things better for everyone

It can be difficult to appreciate a complaint on its own, but we’ve learned a lot from analysing them in the round. Knowing the most common causes, the most challenging currency routes, and even the age groups of those who complain, will help us become more efficient at helping our customers and contribute to TransferWise’s expansion and mission.

In 2019, our goal is to work more on understanding the reasons for complaints through root-cause analysis and provide deeper insights to product teams of what makes customers unhappy. Some of the issues brought up will be easier to fix — mainly product tweaks — while others may be trickier.

The largest number of complaints are consistently caused by KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures and solving that completely will be challenging. But we want to tackle it head-on. We are actively changing our processes, so delays are no longer an issue. At the same time, we’re providing feedback to regulators, explaining the most painful issues that our customers currently face. Naturally, we comply with all the due diligence rules and financial regulations to guarantee the safety and security of our customers, but in some cases these rules will mean that we can’t entirely prevent certain complaints.

We now have a better overview of complaints in general, and have been improving the total handling time for complaints, which has been decreasing steadily. The amount of escalated complaints as a ratio of total transfers has decreased as well.

As we tackle escalated complaints, we often see that the solution we originally offered wasn’t considered sufficient by the customer. When it comes to compensation, our approach has always been that it isn’t true to our values to simply pay out every time a customer isn’t satisfied. If we make a mistake, we’ll make it right, and as we’ve set out above, we’ll act on the feedback to stop other customers facing the same problem. If we can't find ourselves at fault, we'll do our best to explain why and recommend that the customer forwards their issues to an impartial dispute body for a further opinion. Decisions made by our Complaints Officers have mostly aligned with suggestions from the local ombudsman services, indicating we’ve been walking the fair path.

Most importantly, we know that the key to making sure our customers are happy is by putting trust in our customer support team - giving them great training opportunities and letting them show other TransferWise colleagues what it takes to help. Everyone, from the engineers working on our product to our office managers and even our CEO Kristo, will sit with our customer support team to do a side-by-side and experience the issues our customers face first-hand. So our customers’ feedback is important, because everyone will interact with them. Keep it coming.

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