James Clements, Head of Operational Contact Teams, oversees our engagement with financial businesses, working closely with them on the effective handling of complaints.
James outlines the work happening to resolve cases that fall within the scope of the temporary amendment to the way we report business-specific complaints data. He explains the progress so far, and that there is still time – till the end of March 2022 – for businesses to take part in this initiative.
The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a substantial increase in customer demand for our help. It also created operational challenges that required us and financial businesses to think differently about the way we resolve complaints. Incoming volumes of around 90,000 more cases than we expected over that period have resulted in waiting times for customers being too long. Our priorities for this year are centred around improving productivity to reduce waiting times and address our backlog.
We are actively exploring a range of initiatives to help us get quicker outcomes to an increased number of customers, including the “outcome codes initiative”. After consulting (PDF 1014KB) with our stakeholders, in November we implemented our proposals (PDF 1.1MB) to temporarily amend how we publish firm-specific complaints data until the end of March 2022. This means that we will not record the outcomes of complaints settled with consumers during this period as ‘upheld’, which acts as an incentive for firms to make fair and reasonable offers to consumers waiting for an answer to their complaint.
We balance resolving complaints quickly, with maintaining fairness for all our customers – we review the fairness and reasonableness of any offer communicated through the process, as well as keeping a strong focus on vulnerable customers.
How is the initiative going?
We have received just under 4,000 offers so far, totalling £10 million in redress.
Since the initiative began on 1 November 2021, we have used our well-established approaches for handling offers, and our regular engagement with businesses, to ensure we can bring resolution to complaints that fall within its scope.
A broad range of businesses have been involved, over 80 in total, across all industry sectors – with larger businesses accounting for over half of the offers made. We have seen complaints resolved across a range of issues too. In particular, complaints relating to fraud and scams and credit affordability, which – given the impact that these cases can have – will make a significant difference to the customers involved.
We have taken this opportunity to share our insight and approach with businesses. In some instances, we have seen initial offers that are not in line with our usual approach, and we have continued to provide feedback where necessary. We have worked closely with businesses to make sure they are aware of and are using our online guidance and to explain the role of our technical desk. But where fair offers of redress are received, we have worked hard to resolve these complaints quickly.
It is also important to note that this initiative builds on good practice and on the willingness to think differently that we had already seen in some areas of complaints, before the initiative began. We have also seen some businesses applying the spirit of the initiative to other cases not in scope, and proactively resolving significant volumes of complaints using a similar approach.
What are the next steps?
The initiative runs until the end of March 2022. As we approach the end of the financial year, we expect the initiative to continue at pace, building on what has been achieved so far, getting answers to customers as quickly as possible.
Any complaint that is in scope of the initiative and resolved through this process will be recorded separately in our half-yearly business-specific complaints data. We also intend to apply this to complaints resolved where a counter-offer has been agreed by both parties.
We have already contacted businesses that qualified for our data publication in the first half of 2021 with a list of in scope cases for review. Although businesses are under no obligation to do so, any business that was not included in that round of data publication, but who would like to see a list of in scope cases can contact us about joining the initiative too. We are offering to support businesses engaging in it, especially where there are concerns about operational challenges.
We are pleased to see encouraging signs that the progress made so far will continue. We are expecting to continue see this result in further offers of redress and resolved complaints in the coming weeks.
Ultimately, a key measure of success will be the number of complaints proactively settled with a quick and efficient outcome for all involved. We also hope that everyone involved uses this initiative to learn and to inform our collective thinking about early complaint resolution, and ways we can share insight and experience to help us to do this.
Contact us for business support and engagement
To speak to us about getting involved in this initiative, or to talk to us informally about a complaint you have received and how to resolve it at an early stage, contact our Technical Desk.
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