Ombudsman Services | Nov 28, 2019
In several recent forums Ombudsman Services has shared with member companies that we are operating an appeals unit on a trial basis. Here’s some more information on the trial.
Dispute resolution by nature often leaves one party disappointed with the outcome, so it’s to be expected that decisions are sometimes questioned.
As an ombudsman we recognise that our decisions should be right first time, every time. This trial is designed to enable us to get the insights we need to make improvements.
Member companies have requested that appeals made against initial Ombudsman Services decisions be reviewed by a different investigation officer, so that these cases are seen from a fresh perspective by someone who is independent of the original decision.
This is the approach being adopted by the appeals unit in this trial.
For the duration of the trial the appeals unit will be looking at up to 50% of cases where post-initial decision appeals are logged – either by a consumer or a member company.
We chose to apply the trial to energy complaints only because this enabled us to effectively secure the necessary sample volumes in a ring-fenced test environment, without causing disruption across the board to our normal processes and procedures.
The effectiveness of the appeals unit during the trial will be defined using a set of criteria (see below – Objectives).
The three-month trial will conclude at the end of January 2020. We expect to be able to share the progress and initial findings of the trial at the end of each month, and to share the final results with member companies in Q1 2020.
The long-term expectation is that, if this trial provides overall quality improvements, reduces the volume of post-initial decision appeals and improves overall outcomes, it will be ultimately be rolled out across cases in both the energy and communications sectors.
To understand if a change in our current appeals process has a beneficial impact on:
Note: in both processes, each investigation officer (IO) and senior investigation officer (SIO) is assigned to an operational team manager (OTM) within investigations.
During the trial it will become apparent that there are inconsistencies in the way cases are managed by Ombudsman Services because some cases will fall under the new trial process and some cases will not.
We ask that member companies bear with us for the duration of the three-month trial.
In order to gain a true reflection of the impact of this trial we ask that member companies log post-initial decision appeals within the case management system as usual and follow normal, current processes.
We are not able to respond to requests to escalate a specific case with a post-decision appeal to the trial appeals unit and member companies won’t be able to dictate or select which cases are dealt with by the unit.
We welcome feedback from member companies on the impact of this trial. Please send your comments and observations to our Account Development Consultant team, whose contact details you can find here.