Many organisations expect an upsurge in complaints in the wake of this pandemic. They will be confronted by a mix of:
- Clear service failure complaints
- Shortfalls against expectations, realistic or not, and
- Outrage often born of frustration and fear.
Even before Coronavirus, across the range of services people can complain about, the Ombudsman community had seen a year on year increase in caseload.
Recognising instances where people have been materially let down will be vital, especially to support the vulnerable. This will require training, attention to detail and technology to manage the increased workload.
Here is the complaints handling challenge…
How do you pluck out from all the noise those issues where someone has genuinely been wronged or there is a material risk to the business?
‘Separating true hurts from the moans’ as one of our Ombudsman clients put it.
Expression of dissatisfaction
On the other hand, you don’t want to miss out on the general moans, what the collective are ‘just saying’. What is the cumulative message? The “Expression of dissatisfaction” feedback categorisation used by finance firms captures exactly these instances, as opposed to the formal complaint equivalent.
Triage and redirect
One of the most effective moves we’ve seen is to better equip front line contact staff to triage cases quickly, so they can:
Deal with complaints there and then, with an easy way to report the outcome.
Just as easily record and escalate the complaint for specialist review, e.g. to caseworkers.
Re-direct things that ought to be dealt with by someone else (e.g. signpost to another organisation), with or without a follow up marker (reminder).
Some time ago the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) trained and equipped “front line” members of their team to do precisely this, resolving as many as 90% of all cases quickly, efficiently and economically.
Introducing a new “triage” stage removed a bottleneck. The flow of complaints could keep going, reserving the input of more senior staff for trickier cases. This contributed to some 37% reduction in costs while managing extra caseload. LGSCO use Workpro as their case management system. You can read their case study here.
Workpro helps you qualify and triage cases, to quickly spot any that might cause real “injury” to the aggrieved and/or potential damage to your own reputation. You can flag any vulnerable persons, quickly categorise issues, escalate sensitive cases for immediate specialist attention and set alerts and reminders manually (or automatically as part of the workflow).
Attention to detail
A key element of entrusting more to frontline staff is to give them (and complainants) confidence that they are doing the right thing. Training is obviously part of this. Another big win, reported by a customer with a high volume of complaints, is to provide tools that promote compliance and consistency, e.g.:
Fast fill forms to capture case details accurately, with no re-keying required if the case needs to be escalated.
Access to pre-agreed letter and email templates, auto populated with case details but easily personalised, so its quick and easy to issue responses.
Set guidelines using workflow validation rules that highlight what they can and cannot do, making it clear when they need to escalate the case.
And all this may need to be done with your team working remotely. Make it easier for people to collaborate, whether separated by two metres or two hundred miles. Working together while working apart has never been more important.
Enable visibility of the team’s caseload, with colleagues able to cover for each other. According to appropriate permissions of course.
Track caseload from wherever you are with real time performance statistics, so you can spot any bottlenecks or issues as they happen.
Analyse trends and root causes, so you can learn from all complaints, whether ‘true hurts’ or collective ‘moans’.
Workpro can do all this, keeping everything to do with complaints in one online, secure system, accessed remotely from home if you need to.
If ever there was a time to make sure you are following best practice in your complaint handling, this is it.
At Workpro we help make the business of managing any volume of complaints efficient and compliant. Workpro complaints management software is used by Ombudsman and frontline organisations throughout the UK and worldwide.