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ombudsman news

issue 140

March/April 2017

plans into action

It's become a bit of a cliché to talk about putting people before process. But it's a phrase that sticks around because it's a perennial problem organisations grapple with - particularly large ones, where it can sometimes feel that internal procedures work against customer service and common sense. It's a frustration many people in financial services will identify with: both when they're trying to help customers, and personally as consumers themselves.

As a service provider - and one that's grown considerably in response to demand - these are challenges for us, too. We know from our own research - and research from other sectors - that when something goes wrong, the prospect of bureaucracy means some people just can't face trying sort it out.

This is unsatisfying enough if you've got a worry about your bank account. But if you're faced with losing your home, this sense of helplessness could have devastating consequences. And leaving these kinds of issues unresolved could mean a business loses someone's trust, custom or both - when the relationship might otherwise have lasted for years to come.

So - for the benefit of everyone involved - it's essential to break down barriers to getting problems sorted out. For us, that means understanding how we can make using our service as straightforward as possible. It's why we've been working increasingly flexibly, putting our ombudsmen's expertise and experience at the heart of our investigation teams.

Our case studies in this ombudsman news help to show this flexibility in action. Of course, fairness is, and always will be, at the centre of our approach. But pace and responsiveness matter too. We're now often able to unravel and resolve problems in a matter of days or even hours. That's good news for someone with concerns about their current account - and potentially life-changing for someone in serious mortgage arrears.

From the feedback we've received from businesses and consumers alike, we know things are going in the right direction. But there's more to be done - and in our plans for the year ahead, which we published last week, there's more detail about our aims and priorities for the coming months. Whatever challenges 2017/2018 brings, we'll keep up the pace by working together.

Caroline Wayman

Image: Caroline Wayman
Caroline Wayman
chief ombudsman

ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.