Providing forecasts of complaint volumes – guidance for communications companies

Guidance last updated November 2019

Providing forecasts of complaint volumes


At Ombudsman Services, we require large member companies in the communications sector to provide quarterly estimates of expected complaint numbers in advance. We call this forecasting.

Specifically, we ask for the expected number of unresolved complaints about your business that will come to Ombudsman Services.

This guidance sets out our approach to forecasting for 2020 and beyond. The rules and requirements described below are due to take effect from November 2019.

If you have any questions or concerns about this deadline, please contact our Account Development Consultant team via the above email address.

Why does Ombudsman Services ask for forecasts of case volumes?

Timely and accurate forecasting enables us to deliver an effective and efficient service to you and your customers.

Without a view of the anticipated number of cases we will be brought to us by customers of our larger member companies, it is impossible for us to plan and allocate resources appropriately or respond to spikes in demand.

Does my business need to forecast?

We are in contact with the large member companies in the communications sector that are being asked to forecast. If you don’t hear from us, you do not need to forecast.

Does my business need to forecast if I only serve business (non-domestic) customers?

Yes. The forecasting requirements apply to business-only providers as well as those serving residential customers or a combination of residential and business customers. If you are required to provide forecasting data as a residential provider and have a business arm, you will need to forecast for that part of your business too.

What information do I need to provide?

Once a year (by 15 November at the latest) we require that qualifying businesses provide:

• A forecast of monthly complaint volumes for the coming year.

Once a quarter we require that qualifying business provide:

• A re-forecast of monthly complaint volumes for the coming quarter, with a percentage breakdown of full cases versus facilitated complaint resolution (FCR) cases.

• Details of any key operational changes that may have an impact on complaint volumes. Some examples would include the acquisition of a new population of customers through a takeover or merger, the introduction of a new billing platform, tariff / package / pricing changes and adjustments to your signposting policy.

• Any other factors that may impact your complaint-handling processes or the flow of complaints into Ombudsman Services in relation to your business.

If any information that you supply is sensitive or confidential please mark it as so to ensure that the information is shared and used appropriately and as requested.

When do I need to provide this information?

Here are the key dates that you need to be aware of:

• 15 November – deadline for submission of 12-month annual forecasting for the forthcoming calendar year

• 15 February – deadline for submission of Q2 re-forecasting information

• 15 May – deadline for submission of Q3 re-forecasting information

• 15 August – deadline for submission of Q4 re-forecasting information For clarity, here are the dates that encompass each quarter:

• Q1 – 1 Jan to 31 March

• Q2 – 1 April to end of 30 June

• Q3 – 1 July to end of 30 September

• Q4 – 1 October to end of 31 December

What happens if my business should forecast but doesn’t?

We expect all companies to work with us collaboratively with respect to forecasting. Accurate and timely forecasts of complaint volumes are beneficial for businesses and their customers – as well as Ombudsman Services.

In other sectors we have previously operated a system of financial penalties for late or inaccurate forecasting.

While it is not our intention to introduce such a system in the communications sector, we reserve the right at any time to introduce financial penalties if non-compliance becomes an issue.

Should forecasting requirements change we will provide member companies with a minimum of three months’ advance notice.

Will Ombudsman Services share this information externally?

No. The forecasting data you provide to us will be used exclusively for the purposes of our own internal operational planning and won’t be passed by us to any third parties. If we are asked by a regulator or other legitimate stakeholder to divulge a member company’s forecast volumes, we will direct the requestor to the company in question so the information can be provided direct.

How should I submit forecasting information?

Please download and save our template from the below link. Once completed this should be sent to by the above dates.