Many of our customers bring complaints to us because they have experienced poor or inadequate customer service from public bodies or the NHS. People often tell us that, when making a complaint locally, they feel they have not been listened to, or treated with courtesy and respect. They may have experienced protracted delays, or found it difficult to get hold of the right person who can help them. Sometimes, the response to their complaint, or the explanation of what went wrong, has been inadequate or incomplete. The role of my Office is to investigate such complaints and to put things right where we can. As such, it is essential that our own customer service meets the highest standards.
One of our strategic objectives is to deliver a high quality and accessible complaint handling service. We use the results of our customer satisfaction research to measure our success in achieving this objective, and to ascertain how far we fulfil the expectations our customers have of the service we provide. This summary details the results of telephone interviews conducted on our behalf by an independent research company, with a sample of our customers over a six month period. More detailed results are available on our website.
The research results highlight the professionalism and approachability of our staff and the quality of our communication with our customers. It also identifies the areas where there is room for continued improvement – in particular with the timeliness of our service. This will always be a challenge, as our caseload often requires detailed assessment of complex issues, and we are committed to maintaining the high quality of our investigations while remaining mindful of the need to avoid unnecessary delay.
The nature of our work and the independent perspective we bring to handling complaints, means that there will always be some people who are dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint. Nevertheless, our commitment to providing an excellent service remains the same and, while the final decision may disappoint, it is important that the reasons for that decision are communicated clearly and in a way that is easy to understand.
If you have recently made a complaint to us, or are thinking of bringing a complaint, I hope this research summary will provide a useful snapshot of the experiences of some of our recent customers. We are grateful to all those who have participated in the research: as a result of your feedback we are able to improve the service we offer to everyone.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman