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annual review 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006 - who complained to us

what type of consumer uses the ombudsman service?

Consumers complaining to the ombudsman service are, on average, between the ages of 35 and 64. Seven out of ten people who use our service are in this age bracket, reflecting the fact that this is the generation of homeowners most likely to have complaints relating to mortgage endowments sold in the 1980s and early 1990s. Complaints about mortgage endowments make up almost two-thirds of our total workload.

what age are consumers who complain to the ombudsman?

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younger than 24 years

1%

25 to 34

6%

35 to 44

27%

45 to 54

27%

55 to 64

18%

65 and older

21%

The figures continue to show that significantly more men than women complain to the ombudsman service. However, many complaints relate to accounts and policies (especially mortgage endowment policies) held jointly. And with joint accounts, the first-named account-holder - the name our system records - is generally a male partner.

... and what gender are they?

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female

26%

male

74%

where do consumers live who complain to the ombudsman?

The number of consumers who complained to the ombudsman service from the South West of England, Wales and Northern Ireland remained proportionately the same as in the previous year. Fewer people complained from the South East and London. But the proportion of people who brought complaints to the ombudsman service from the Midlands, Scotland, East Anglia and the North West rose by 12%.

These are the regions where we have focused specific consumer "outreach" work in the last couple of years - including taking part in consumer shows and organising training for local consumer advice agencies. These activities might help explain the greater level of awareness of the ombudsman on the part of consumers from these particular areas.

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region percentage

South East (including Greater London)

26%

Midlands

19%

North West

12%

Scotland

12%

South West

10%

North East

9%

East Anglia

6%

Wales

4%

Northern Ireland

2%

how did consumers first hear about the ombudsman?

source percentage

from the financial firm

32%

through the media

27%

through a friend, relative or colleague

14%

from a consumer advice agency (eg trading standards or citizens advice)

8%

from the internet

6%

other (including other complaints bodies and claims management companies)

13%

Under the rules of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), firms are required to tell their customers about the ombudsman service when they first do business with them, and subsequently if a complaint arises which the firm cannot resolve to the customer’s satisfaction. So we would expect most people to say they heard about us from the financial firm they are complaining about.

However, many consumers also continue to tell us that they first heard about our service through the media. And this year an increasing number of people said they found out about us from friends, relatives and work colleagues or through consumer advice agencies, such as citizens advice and trading standards. This shows the importance of word of mouth as a way of increasing awareness about the Financial Ombudsman Service.

what newspapers do consumers read who complain to the ombudsman?

The chart below shows the newspapers that the consumers who used our service during the year told us they read. This information helps us tailor our messages more effectively to target the people who do - and don’t - know about and use the ombudsman service.

newspaper percentage

Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday

25%

The Times / Sunday Times

13%

The Telegraph / Sunday Telegraph

12%

The Express / Sunday Express

9%

The Sun / News of the World

7%

The Mirror / Sunday Mirror

6%

The Guardian / Observer

6%

The Independent / Independent on Sunday

4%

Financial Times

4%

Scottish and Northern Irish titles

3%

other newspaper (including regional publications)

11%

consumer diversity

14% of our customers told us in our monthly surveys that they had some form of disability (16% in the previous year) - predominantly hearing impairment and mobility difficulties. There is strong demand for our publications in Braille, large print and on audiotape - and we use TypeTalk and sign-language on request. This is part of our commitment to be flexible and accommodate our customers’ needs wherever we can.

Our customer surveys indicate that around 5% of people who use our service define themselves as “minority ethnic” (4% in the previous year). 15% of ombudsman service employees describe themselves as coming from an ethnic minority background.

For people who are not comfortable using English, we provide information and are able to communicate in other languages. In the past year we have done so in over 20 languages - including handling correspondence in Arabic, phone calls in Tagalog and emails in Urdu.

how do consumers who complain to the ombudsman rate the service we provide?

The chart below shows how the consumers who took part in our monthly satisfaction surveys throughout the year rated our service - measured against a number of specific customer service benchmarks. We also measured the general level of satisfaction of consumers who used the ombudsman service during the year. 78% of their views of our service were generally positive (compared with a figure of 80% in the previous year).

we keep consumers well informed about progress on their complaint

  • 86% agree
  • 14% disagree

we explain clearly the reasons behind our decisions

  • 80% agree
  • 20% disagree

we resolve complaints within an acceptable length of time

  • 66% agree
  • 34% disagree

our staff are courteous at all times

  • 98% agree
  • 2% disagree

people who use our service are likely to recommend it to friends and family who have a financial complaint

  • 80% agree
  • 20% disagree

We launched our customer satisfaction research programme in 2002 - and have published findings from our surveys in each annual review since then. Because of the significant growth in the number of consumers using the ombudsman service since 2002, it has been important to review the way we carry out this work. This has resulted in our developing our customer service benchmarks, agreeing eight “satisfaction indicators” that sum up what consumers tell us they expect from our service - as well as reflecting our own organisational aims and values:

  • integrity
  • timeliness
  • understanding of the complaint
  • professionalism
  • clarity of outcome
  • good communication
  • competence
  • quality of information

We also continue to measure consumers’ overall satisfaction with the service we provide.

Our original customer satisfaction programme was designed to enable us to monitor how well we performed over time against our own set of benchmarks. However, we recognise that it is just as important to understand how we perform against other comparable organisations. Our new customer satisfaction indicators will enable us, for the first time, to compare our results directly and consistently with others - initially public service, charity and consumer advice members of the Consumer Action Network. Moving to this new system of benchmarking will mean that there may be initial fluctuations between our new customer service data and results we have recorded in our previous surveys.

how does the outcome of their complaint affect how consumers rate the service we provide?

of those consumers who said they felt they had “won” their complaint:

  • 96% were satisfied with our handling of their case
  • 3% were dissatisfied
  • 1% expressed no view

of those consumers who said they felt they had “lost” their complaint:

  • 64% were satisfied with our handling of their case
  • 30% were dissatisfied
  • 6% expressed no view

of those consumers who said they didn’t feel they had either “wonor “lost” their complaint:

  • 92% were satisfied with our handling of their case
  • 7% were dissatisfied
  • 1% expressed no view