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looking to the future

15 May 2014

Future Foundation has today published a range of detailed reports as part of its research into the future world of complaints - and the impact this may have on the ombudsman over the next decade.

This research was commissioned by the non-executive board of the Financial Ombudsman Service - in line with its commitment to three-yearly independent reviews of the ombudsman and the wider issues affecting the service.

Over the last six months Future Foundation has been working with a diverse range of consumer and industry stakeholders on the future of complaint resolution in 2025. This has included extensive research into how the world is changing - and how this is likely to affect the relationship between businesses and their customers over the next decade.

Future Foundation has established a number of key themes as part of their research into the complaints world of 2025:

  • Consumers will expect businesses and organisations to step in earlier and to learn from their mistakes more quickly. Consumers will be less tolerant of those that don’t tackle their concerns promptly and effectively.
  • If consumers feel some organisations are consistently not ”playing fair”, trust will remain unattainable. Total transparency will be expected as standard - and an absence of fairness is likely to act as a catalyst for a more confrontational approach.
  • “Big data” - increasingly detailed profiles of customers, their likes, tastes and interests - will become a significant currency among businesses. By 2025 businesses will vie to extrapolate data that will maximise their marketing potential, offering personally tailored services to individual customers.
  • Vulnerable consumers will need more help when dealing with businesses, especially when it comes to new technologies. This could result in organisations becoming inaccessible for those who can’t afford ”higher quality” services. This will provide further opportunities for ”new” intermediaries to represent them.

Sir Nicholas Monatagu, chairman of the Financial Ombudsman Service, said:

The last few years have shown that significant changes to the way we work, communicate and live can happen swiftly and dramatically. From the rise of social media to mass claims like the PPI mis-selling scandal, it’s clear that it doesn’t pay to be complacent about what the future may hold.

This insightful work by Future Foundation provides a backdrop to the challenges the ombudsman and the financial services sector potentially face in the future. It also forms part of how we will make our own future plans to provide a service for the ever changing needs of our customers. In publishing the research, I hope that the wide range of businesses and organisations we work with will find something of use to them as they prepare for a rapidly changing world.

Melanie Howard, chair of Future Foundation, said:

Few things have the potential to define a relationship between consumer and business or organisation as starkly as when something goes wrong. 

Our research suggests that in the future consumers will expect higher standards and financial services firms will vie with increasingly imaginative intermediaries to meet those expectations. At the same time, technology will change both the subject and nature of complaints - but not always in the ways that you might expect. 

Future Foundation has published its detailed research on the complaints world of 2025 online.

The research published today by Future Foundation follows three previous independent reports commissioned and published by the board of the Financial Ombudsman Service:

  • The National Audit Office (NAO) review of the efficiency of the ombudsman service (2011)
  • Lord Hunt of Wirral’s report on the accessibility and openness of the ombudsman service (2008)
  • Bristol University’s Personal Finance Research Centre’s report on the ombudsman service’s case-handling procedures and systems (2004)

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