Why you should see complaints as 'gold dust'

by Ksenia Stepanova29 Nov 2019

Nobody likes to be on the receiving end of a complaint. They’re a hassle and a headache…but they can also be helpful. The Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) is encouraging the industries to regard complaints as a learning opportunity, and as ‘free feedback’ that can drive huge improvements to their processes.

IFSO Karen Stevens has been in her role for over 20 years, and says complaints can offer extremely valuable nuggets of wisdom and insight into what the customer wants, what is working and what isn’t, and she says will analysing this will ultimately help reduce problems in the future.

“Rob Everett said that complaints are gold dust, and they really are,” Stevens said. “You can get so much information out of complaints – they are free feedback about what’s going right with your process, or what’s going wrong.”

The IFSO Scheme currently has 4,700 total participants and received 3,805 complaints enquiries over 2018 – 2019. Insurance took the bulk of complaints, while credit contracts received 12 and financial advisers only 3...however, Stevens says IFSO’s role has become about much more than simply resolving these complaints. It is now aiming to drive improvement in the industry by collecting information and sharing insights.

“By resolving complaints we are monitoring performance, and by doing that, we can share insights with the industry to drive improvement in your processes,” Stevens said.

“We try and facilitate improvement by sharing these insights. We have so many case studies that we will take lessons from and share with you, and with that in mind, we are trying to prevent problems from arising in the future.”

Stevens says case studies can be particularly useful, as it gives businesses the chance to look at the complaints other companies have received. They can then examine what their own complaints trends are, why they’re occurring, and think about how they can prevent them.

“We’re hoping this information will help transform the industry in the way we all want,” Stevens concluded. “Complaints give insights into customer behaviour and help you focus on them, and the results should be good customer outcomes.”

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