CORONAVIRUS: Ombudsman Services is not experiencing any disruption to services or systems as a result of the coronavirus. Member companies can use the Case Management System and liaise with our teams as usual. View our latest COVID-19 updates

Ombudsman Services position on Coronavirus [COVID-19]

Ombudsman Services position on COVID-19 virus

We would like to provide our partner businesses and stakeholders with some information about our current status, approach and actions, plus the business continuity plan (BCP) for Ombudsman Services.

Our top priority is to ensure the service remains available and consistent for customers, businesses, regulators and other stakeholders, and for the safety and wellbeing of our people.

We’d also like to reassure you that we are monitoring and following the guidelines set out by the government, PHE (Public Health England), PHW (Lechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru) and other sources (detailed below) to ensure that we are making effective decisions in line with daily news and status updates.

Our plan mirrors the four stages outlined by the government which is centred around containment, delay, research and mitigate.

Current status: Business as usual.

  • We are currently, proactively stress testing the business continuity plan by asking colleagues to voluntarily work from home. As a result, we can report that the business has been successfully mobilised with remote working for 90%+ of the workforce.
  • All current indicators and feedback channels suggest that this is working to plan with service uninterrupted.
  • We are monitoring the systems, service and our people continually.
  • The senior leadership team convenes daily to discuss, update and review.
  • As and when new advice is released, we will adapt our strategy with any necessary changes and provide updates

Business Continuity Plan

Ombudsman Services use third party suppliers to provide additional support and resource during the course of normal business as well as during extraordinary times.

For example, a service is already in place to triage inbound complaints. The supplier provides both office-based resource and home working provision. The balance and nature of this resource is flexible such that Ombudsman Services can meet the needs of our customers in a timely way. And for cases that require full investigation, we have a partnership in place which operates based on resource which is entirely made up of home workers. They are already set up to manage situations such as this.

Ombudsman Services also has the ability to replicate the office environment for 99% of colleagues, enabling them to work from home. We are currently working in this context.

We can, and are, providing the service as usual, in line with our regulatory service level agreements.

Quality assurance processes and procedures also continue as usual.

Our partners and member businesses are experiencing business as usual, so we ask you to follow standard procedures, to stay in system, and if required, contact us as usual. Due to the flexibility of the operating model we are able to scale up further resource if required and manage demand and supply, unless we experience especially high levels of sickness and absence or a dramatic increase in the volume of complaints, over a short period of time.

Special Measures

We would like to advise you that at this time, there is no anticipated need for special measures to be put in to place and all cases should continue through the Case Management System as usual.

Risk management

We are following the relevant guidelines (referenced below). Senior Leaders and the Business Continuity Plan team members, (BCP team), convene daily to assess any changes in these fast changing, unprecedented times.

We continue to consider our customers, colleagues and stakeholders and to review the service and resource accordingly.

References and resources:

Forthcoming events and meetings:

  1. As a precautionary measure we have cancelled the Energy Sector Liaison Panel (SLP) which was due to be held on 18 March 2020 at our offices in Warrington, Cheshire. However, we are making plans to deliver an “information pack” as a substitute. More details will be available shortly.
  2. The Communications Sector Liaison Panel went ahead as planned on 19 February 2020.
  3. The Ofgem visit scheduled for Friday 13 March 2020 has been cancelled.
  4. We are currently assessing if we may need to cancel the Vulnerability Workshop which is due to be held on 29 April 2020 at our offices in Warrington, Cheshire.
  5. Currently we intend to run the annual conference in London on 3 June 2020 – this may need to change so we will update you nearer the time.

Business as usual

  • Daily/weekly/monthly calls are all being run as normal. Colleagues are instructed to run business and usual activities and processes.
  • Face to face meetings that have been set up for the next month will be facilitated by Skype or Zoom or whatever suits the member business / stakeholder partner.
  • We have advised customer facing teams to restrict travel to a minimum and only meet face to face if necessary.
  • Many partners and stakeholders have communicated to us that travel bans are in place, so we will work with partners to agree methods to maintain business as usual levels of contact and support.
  • We will be taking a view daily on if/what may need to change and will inform members by email, service letter, on the Partners website, via calls and our B2B social media channels. The partners website https://partners.ombudsman-services.org/ is operating as usual and will be updated regularly. Consumers will also receive updates at https://www.ombudsman-services.org/, via our social media channels and through the case management system.

Contact and availability:

We also wish to extend our thoughts and best wishes to all those personally affected by the Coronavirus.