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Ombudsmen show complaints-handling expertise in addressing online critics

by Eskimo Commands | Posted in Complaints management solutions | 4 February 2016
Ombudsmen show complaints-handling expertise in addressing online critics

Ombudsman schemes - so used to dealing with complaints about other organisations - are facing a new challenge, the phenomenon of online critics.

New research is being carried out by Oxford University into the impact of websites that are springing up criticising ombudsman services in the UK.

Activist consumer groups, dubbed “Ombudsman Watchers”, have set up online protest sites and are using social media to highlight their concerns and campaign for change.

It is a poignant reminder that no organisation is immune to the possibility of criticism and complaint. For the ombudsman, as with any other service or product provider, it is how the complaints are dealt with that is important.

Ombudsman schemes have long been champions of the importance of learning from complaints.

At Computer Application Services we know a well handled complaint can present an opportunity to improve. So it is excellent news that the ombudsman services are engaging with their online critics and their complaints to find out why they are happening, what they mean for the service they provide and how they can use them to improve in the future.

Researchers invited the Ombudsman Watchers to take part in workshops to hear their views, and have written a Policy Brief, “Critics of the Ombudsman System: Understanding and Engaging Online Citizen Activists”.

The authors believe the complaints may highlight “the way in which the public misunderstands the role of ombudsman schemes and may be indicative of an apparent gap between public expectation and what ombudsman schemes are set up to provide.”

This knowledge in itself is useful to the ombudsmen as it will highlight steps they need to take to engage with the public to boost awareness of the role they provide.

And it is reassuring to see that an organisation so crucial in dealing with public complaints is taking criticism against itself seriously and handling it so expertly.

Computer Application Services helps organisations better manage, report and learn from complaints, using our Workpro complaints management software. To find out more visit

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