What is an Ombudsman? In the UK we typically use the Swedish word “Ombudsman”. Rooted in Old Norse, the term means “representative” or a proxy. In some jurisdictions, including “man” can invoke angst when so many Ombuds are women these days. Perhaps we can celebrate the service, not get hung up on the name!
Some Ombuds[man] offices protect the rights of commercial customers – everything from utilities and telecoms to furniture. Financial Services is of course well regulated by such schemes, from banks and insurers to accountants and auditors. But the number of Ombuds a citizen can call on to fight their corner on government services is staggering: health, housing, children’s welfare, old people’s wellbeing, local government services, social care, prisons, armed forces…
A court of law can be out of reach for many people as a means of civil recourse - the services of an Ombuds[man] on the other hand come at no cost to the user. And the outcome is not reliant on who has the better lawyer. Ombudsman principles are centred around fairness and proportionality, not technicalities.
Ombuds principles follow variations on these six themes:
- Getting it right
- Being customer focused (consumer or service user)
- Being open and accountable
- Acting fairly and proportionately
- Putting things right
- Seeking continuous improvement.
For us, every day is Ombuds[man] day.
Workpro is proud to support Ombudsman, Commissioners and Regulators in managing complaints and associated case work. We support Ombuds offices worldwide with case management systems that make it easier to implement and track processes built around the six principles. Plus robust audit trails and comprehensive reporting.
Pre-Coronavirus, the Ombudsman community was already experiencing an increase in case load. It’s not just the virus that will likely spike over the winter – imagine the wave of complaints that is gathering as pressures on services clash with capacity and expectations.
If you would like to learn more about how Workpro can support Ombuds offices, contact us today.