Quick note on Working with the Ombudsman Service

What do we mean by working with..?

We know it sounds like strange, given that the last thing you would want to do is be working with the Ombudsman, because that means a complaint has been referred to them, but bear with us.

If you think about it, if you chose not to engage (please don’t do this), then the chances of a ‘fair and reasonable’ outcome hit rock bottom. You’re the person or business that holds all of the information and knowledge needed to get to an outcome on a complaint. 

You’ll know about your people, your customer, your products and your processes – all information that is absolutely critical to investigating a complaint. So, it pays to view this experience as an opportunity to ‘work with’ the Ombudsman, rather than feeling as though you’re under the microscope. 

But, why is this so important?

Putting it bluntly, both DISP and the Ombudsman expect businesses to learn from the experience of having a complaint. The expectation being that businesses ‘learn lessons’ to avoid repetition. You might believe that this only applies to big businesses, but it can equally apply to the smaller ones, when a flaw has been spotted in a system, for example.

But, that learning cuts both ways, because on the flip side, you can learn a lot about how the Ombudsman process works and how it looks at certain things. You can spot issues with the person you’re working with at the Ombudsman service and you can learn what you can do to make yourself heard without having to vent frustrations.  

Pushing back the right way

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you pushing back on things when you disagree with the investigator or the ombudsman. In fact, it would be wrong to suggest otherwise, because the process is meant to be mediation, not being dictated to. 

This is particularly the case if you feel that the points you have made or key evidence has been missed. But, there is a way to do it that means that both you and the ombudsman staff member come away feeling comfortable with things.This means not blowing up, no matter how frustrated you are. Honestly, that will never end well. 

If you’re unhappy with the investigator and what they’ve concluded then ask for it to be reviewed by an ombudsman. But do it in a clear and concise way, putting all of your points in writing so that you can show why you feel things have been missed or overlooked. 

What if you feel you've received poor service from the ombudsman service?

No business offering a service that involves people will ever be able to satisfy 100% of people, 100% of the time, and that includes the Ombudsman. Things can, and do, go wrong.

If this happens to you, then you can refer the matter to the Independent Assessor. She is there to look at problems from consumers and businesses that have service issues.

However, the Independent Assessor can’t look at the outcome of the complaint, hence the importance of making sure you get your points across to the investigator at an early stage and, not the last gasp when an Ombudsman has issued a decision.

Wanting more?

Then it's time to book on to our Working with the Ombudsman course.

In our workshop we cover everything you need to know about the Ombudsman Service including:

  • Walk through the process of a typical case
  • Titles and the present structure 
  • Lines of communication – types of contact and tips for managing calls from investigators
  • Reading between the lines 
  • Not agreeing with outcomes – what to do at various points of the process
  • Pushing back the right way – preventing communication breakdown
  • How to make a good case to persuade the ombudsman
  • What to do if you don’t agree with the ombudsman