Charter UK warns firms will face increased scrutiny of new one-stage complaints processCharter UK CEO Paul Clark says the requirement for a firm's first response to be their final response, means the UK financial services sector will face an unprecedented level of scrutiny from the public, the media, and the FSA, as the sector continues to come under fire.
On July 1st, the Financial Services Authority's (FSA) new rules for one-stage complaints handling came into force. Previously, if a firm sent a written response within eight weeks of receiving a complaint, it only had to provide a subsequent final response if the complainant remained dissatisfied.
However in an effort to stop firms abusing this by dealing with the complaint in a sub-standard way at the first stage, the FSA introduced measures whereby a firm's first response has to be its 'final response'.
"As a result of this change, the customer experience will take centre stage like never before – and the way in which complaints are being handled is now squarely in the spotlight," commented Paul Clark.
"The good news is that this renewed focus on the customer has the potential to change the way in which individuals see the UK financial services sector, but only if firms seize this opportunity to implement "one stage" complaint-handling systems that will make the customer experience better, fairer and more efficient."
However, Mr Clark says it is vital that firms ensure their complaints handling systems are fit for purpose. "Without the right systems in place, firms will be unable to obtain any of these benefits, and will instead see a marked increase in complaint referrals to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) – along with the related penalties – rather than any rise in customer satisfaction."
Commenting on why the new measures have been introduced, an FSA spokeswoman said: "Ensuring that firms treat customers fairly is at the heart of our consumer protection agenda.
"A firm's approach to complaints handling is an important indicator of whether it treats its customers fairly. It is crucial to building confidence in financial services that consumers are confident they will be dealt with properly if things go wrong."