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Taking the pain out of complaints handling

LegalEyeWhen it comes to dealing with complaints, 9 out of 10 firms recognise that it makes sound commercial and business sense to handle complaints quickly and efficiently. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Legal Ombudsman (LeO) jointly commissioned London Economics and YouGov to undertake independent research into the experiences and effectiveness of solicitors’ first tier complaints handling process.

Although the number of firms, just over 500, and numbers of dissatisfied users of legal services, around 2000, were low, the findings can assist firms who are struggling with complaints and looking for ways to improve the experience – both from the firm’s perspective as well as the client’s perspective.

In line with the findings published on the Legal Ombudsman’s website for 2016/2017, the research found that the most common complaints from consumers related to communication and delays, with conveyancing, family law and wills and probate being the services that received the highest number of complaints.

Other key findings include:

Whilst no firm wants to receive complaints, no business is perfect; mistakes happen and it’s important that they’re dealt with efficiently. What’s more, dealing with the complaints effectively in the first instance can re-establish client confidence and thus ensure client retention, improve service delivery and minimise any potential damage to reputation.

Why do firms struggle with their complaints handling?

There are many reasons including:

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Report concluded that not enough information is available on price and quality of service to help those (mostly individual consumers and small businesses) who need legal support to choose the best option.  To this end, Legal Ombudsman’s decisions are already published on their website with the name of the service provider, the number of decisions and any remedy required – such information remaining on the LeO’s website for a 12-month period.

As competition in the legal market increases, firms must focus on getting things right the first time and eliminating as far as possible the causes of complaints through the implementation of a robust complaints procedure.

Now, more than ever before, it is important that firms take steps to ensure that their Complaints Handling processes and procedures are not just adequate but are the best that they can be and that those responsible for dealing with complaints are proactive in doing so.

So, how can your firm improve the way it deals with complaints?

If you are struggling to deal effectively with complaints and would like information about how to improve your complaints handling procedure, take a look at our short video [1] on outsourcing your complaints handling.