Online kit provides resource for complaint handlers

August 4, 2004 (Toronto) � The Financial Services OmbudsNetwork has added a Resource Kit to its Web site that lays out a selection of themes related to financial consumer complaint-handling and provides links to reference material and tip sheets.

�During the course of our research to flesh out our own guiding principles, we uncovered a wealth of information from Canadian and international sources,� notes Pierre Gravelle, Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Financial Services OmbudsNetwork. �We are making this representative sampling available as a reference tool to industry practitioners and others who have an interest in complaint-handling and prevention.�

The Resource Kit includes 10 complaint-handling themes, based on a review of publicly available material. The themes suggest that organizations that practice strategic complaint management:

  • listen to their consumers
  • establish company practices that help avoid disputes from arising
  • effect complaint-handling processes in accordance with well-publicized complaint-handling policies
  • ensure the impartiality and objectivity of complaint-handling staff
  • define authority of front-line and complaint-handling staff
  • make it easy to complain
  • handle complaints as quickly as possible and tell consumers when they can expect a response
  • ensure reliability, confidentiality and accountability
  • use historical complaint data to improve future service, effectiveness and efficiency
  • invest in qualified staff

�These themes give life to our own complaint-handling principles and will guide the practices of our consumer assistance and referral service,� adds Gravelle.

The material includes reference to a variety of related practices already in place in financial services companies, industry associations and government organizations, both in Canada and abroad. �While formal mechanisms such as the International Standards Organizations�(ISO) new complaint-handling standard, ISO 10002, Quality Management � Customer Satisfaction � Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations, will always play an important role, many organizations have adopted their own practices that guide the complaint-handling function. In some cases, these are company specific, and in others, associations have established voluntary guidelines and expect member firms to abide by these,� explains Gravelle.

Participants in the OmbudsNetwork adhere to a set of standards that reflect a commitment to a consumer-oriented approach to complaint-handling and redress including accessibility, timeliness, courtesy, clarity, accuracy, consistency. Additionally, in their dealings with consumers, the Centre and the OmbudServices adhere to the principles of knowledge, fairness and impartiality, confidentiality, objectivity and independence.

Through its free Consumer Assistance and Referral Service and Web site, the Financial Services OmbudsNetwork assists financial consumers in resolving individual questions, concerns or complaints, by putting them in touch with the appropriate point in the OmbudsNetwork of individual financial institutions, independent OmbudServices: the Canadian Life and Health Insurance OmbudService, the General Insurance OmbudService, the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments, and industry association assistance centres.

The OmbudsNetwork was originally announced in December 2001 by the founding industry associations representing the large majority of Canada�s financial services sector � banks, life and health insurers, home, car and business insurers, investment dealers and the mutual funds industry.

To access the kit, visit: