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ADR- The next big wave in complaints handling

by Ken Naismith | Posted in Complaints management solutions | 4 June 2014

It used to be said that UK citizens were poor at complaining.  Picture a restaurant scene - diners discussing how disappointing the meal is, yet when the waiter asks how everything is, "Fine thanks" comes the grimacing chorus. 

If you work in front line services you'll have realised that Britain its finding its voice (and not just for talent shows).  Not only more willing to complain, we have latched on to the US compensation culture which, until recently, was so derided elsewhere. 

Enlightened service providers were first to get their heads out of the sand and recognise the value of listening to complaints, both for commercial (cutting the costs of complaints) and competitive purposes (learning from complaints to deliver better products and services).  Those who haven't improved their act are quickly learning that social media shines a harsh light on poor customer service.

The next revolution in the complaints world is around the corner, as Europe's Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR ) directive bites. The UK government ADR consultation , asking for views on how to apply new European requirements for alternative dispute and online dispute resolution into UK law, finished yesterday.

It was also clear at the Ombudsman Association  annual conference I recently attended that the Ombudsman community recognise that this is a significant piece of legislation for them. They will play a prominent role in helping individuals and organisations to comply. There was a clear recognition at the conference of the need to look outwards, to understand what complainants and other stakeholders really want and need.

Few citizens have the means to instigate civil court action when a service provider lets them down – or worse, does them harm through poor advice or mal practice, in the widest sense of the term.  Rather than being able to hide behind such an obstacle to being taken to task, ADR opens the door on more accessible justice.

As suppliers of complaint management software, CAS will also continue to monitor developments in this space. Workpro  allows organisations to effectively capture and process complaints, with best practice workflow, alerts and reminders that help organisations to comply with any legislation. It is not just the need to inform complainants at an early stage about how they can access ADR. We are also looking at the provision of portals that link complaint handling systems with ADR providers and Ombudsman schemes. The future lies in greater integration.

Comment by Ken Naismith, CAS CEO.

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