The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the “Bureau” or “CFPB”) has taken another step towards improving its consumer complaint process and the Consumer Complaint Database.  On August 1, 2016, the Bureau published a Notice and Request for Comment in the Federal Register on its new information collection, “Consumer Response Company Response Survey.”  The purpose of the information collection is to incorporate a short survey into the CFPB’s complaint closing process.  The survey builds on a Notice and Request for Comment issued by the Bureau in March 2015 seeking input on how to highlight positive consumer experiences with providers of financial products and services.

Consumers would be given the option to provide feedback on the company’s response to and handling of their complaint through all channels, including online, telephone, facsimile, and mail.  The results of the survey would be shared with the company to whom the complaint was directed in order to help inform the company’s handling of complaints and to inform the CFPB’s work in supervising companies and monitoring the consumer financial products and services market.

The survey would replace the current consumer “dispute” function and allow consumers to provide both positive and negative feedback regarding their complaint experience.  Consumers would provide feedback in a two-step process.  The consumer would be able to rate the company’s effectiveness in responding to and handling the consumer’s complaint on a one to five scale and in a narrative in support of the rating.

The CFPB intends to evaluate and publish the data obtained from the surveys in accordance with its policy statement on Disclosure of Consumer Complaint Data.  The CFPB released a mock-up of the survey, which provides an opt-in option for consumers to consent to the CFPB publishing their feedback on its website.  Only surveys for which the consumer has opted-in and that have undergone “robust personal information scrubbing standard[s] and methodolog[ies]” will be eligible for publication.  The CFPB anticipates publication of consumer feedback to underscore positive behavior by companies, provide consumers with quick and easy-to-understand information about consumer financial products and services, and improve the functioning, transparency, and efficiency of the markets of such products and services.  In addition, the CFPB hopes that the negative feedback obtained through the use of the survey will be better supported and thus more useful to companies than the current consumer “dispute” function.

The CFPB is seeking comments on (a) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Bureau, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) The accuracy of the Bureau’s estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methods and the assumptions used; (c) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.  Comments must be received on or before September 30, 2016.