Ethical fairness in financial services complaint handling
Chalmers, S. (2016) Ethical fairness in financial services complaint handling. International Journal for Bank Marketing, vol. 34 (4), pp. 570-586.
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to propose a conceptual model for ethical and fair complaint handling. This provides a basis for research and the development of financial institution complaint handling approaches and practices. Design/methodology/approach - Ethical issues posed by the application of fairness theory to complaint handling are explored. The ethical soundness of organizational justice theory is critiqued. Multi-disciplinary literature is drawn on to develop a conceptual model for ethical fairness in complaint handling. Findings - Issues relevant to an ethical approach to complaint handling, and which are underdeveloped in current organizational and perceived justice frameworks, are identified. These include issues of autonomy, context, reflexivity, moral value, stakeholder voice, power and moral accountability. A conceptual model for ethical fairness in complaint handling is proposed. Research limitations/implications - This paper establishes a research agenda. Further development is required. Practical implications - The proposed model contributes to the development of complaint handling practices and competency frameworks. Originality/value - Justice theories have been proposed as theoretical frameworks for service recovery procedures, however, moral and critical questions have been neglected. The model proposed challenges financial institutions to move away from traditional normative perspectives, which seek to solve problems through managerial interventions, and adopt a perspective which is interpretivistic and reflexive. The model recognizes ethical issues and seeks to minimize inherent power positions, identify accountability and question moral values. Through envisioning complaint handlers as boundary spanners, new light is shed on their relational and communicative roles.