Twice a year the Financial Ombudsman Service – the body charged with addressing and resolving consumer complaints to financial businesses – releases its official complaints data. The data is released in April and September each year and relates to the performance of individual financial businesses, including all of the high street banks and largest insurers.
The most recent findings (released in September 2014) make for some interesting, if sobering reading for the UK’s financial services industry. While many businesses have worked hard to address their complaints procedures, it’s clear from these figures that much more needs to be done to address consumers’ concerns.
In the first half of 2014, the Ombudsman took on 191,129 new cases from consumers who believed their initial complaints hadn’t been dealt with effectively. While PPI remains a key driver behind these cases (70 per cent), other financial products including banking services, credits & loans and mortgages remain stubbornly high.
The findings also reveal that many consumers feel they are not being listened to and that their complaints are “processed industrially, as a number”, with many being repeats of an initial grievance.
Clearly, a means through which financial services firms can reduce the number of complaints reaching the Financial Ombudsman is to ensure that all front-line staff are equipped with the skills and knowledge to handle them effectively in the first instance.
As such, ifs University College offers a dedicated qualification in complaints handling. The Certificate in Regulated Complaints Handling (CeRCH) has been specifically designed for those working in the front line within retail financial services. It covers both the essential regulatory knowledge that all complaints handling staff need and the principles of providing customer services excellence with a focus on reaching positive customer solutions.
Commenting on the latest figures, Martin Day, Vice Principal at ifs University College said:
“The latest findings from the Financial Ombudsman Service show that many financial services organisations still have much to do to improve their levels of customer service.
“With new account-switching rules meaning that banks are facing stiffer competition in the sector, it’s vital that those tasked with overseeing their customer service obligations provide their staff with the necessary skills, competencies and qualifications to stand out from their competitors and deliver the best possible outcomes for their customers.”