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ombudsman news

issue 104

August/September 2012

Q&As

we have about five complaints a year referred to the ombudsman by our customers - where we haven't been able to resolve matters ourselves. We'd like the opportunity to meet people from the ombudsman face-to-face - to understand more about what you do. Is this something you can help with?

The fact we cover over 100,000 financial businesses means that we can't get to know each one individually. But we definitely see the value in talking to businesses about our general approach - and we look for ways of targeting and prioritising our resources to get the most out of them. This includes travelling around the UK, attending and hosting events so we can meet consumer groups and businesses.

If we're talking openly with businesses that are covered by us - and sharing our insight and experiences with them - there's a good chance that some problems experienced by their customers can be sorted out sooner, and without the need for us to get formally involved. This has to be better for everyone.

And of course, it's a two-way thing. We learn from what businesses and consumer groups tell us too. In her interview, Jane Hingston, one of our lead ombudsmen, suggests we should never assume we know best. Our visits and events programme constantly gives us new perspectives.

Some of our events are aimed at businesses like yours who are covered by the ombudsman service - but who don't usually have much direct contact with us because we receive relatively few complaints about them.

Our free "introducing the ombudsman" seminars aim to do just that - by explaining our role and how we go about our work. They're hosted by senior ombudsmen and led by our outreach team - the people who, when they're not on the road, are busy taking calls on our technical advice desk from businesses and advice workers - giving an informal steer on the ombudsman's approach to different kinds of complaint.

We also run "workingtogether" conferences for larger financial businesses - who are usually already talking to the ombudsman every day about the larger number of cases they have with us and would like to know how to hear from us less often! These conferences are also led by senior ombudsmen.

We run training sessions for community and advice workers too. We're very keen to welcome the widest range of people from consumer and voluntary groups to the events we run - from trading standards officers, money advisers and MPs' caseworkers to representatives from smaller charities and local support agencies.

A typical event includes presentations, group discussions, case studies and question-and-answer sessions. We run these events all over the country, often in association with local advice networks. And like our events for smaller businesses, places are free of charge.

We're convinced that meeting face-to-face with businesses and advice workers to discuss our general approach to cases helps us all offer a better service to customers - preventing problems and sorting things out more swiftly when they do go wrong. So come along and see us next time we're in your area. Over the next few months we'll be out and about in Birmingham, Doncaster, Exeter, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough and Paignton.

To find out more visit our events pages or call us on 020 7964 1400.