Newsletter – March 2022

Spotlight on… reducing complaints from clients

At the Legal Ombudsman, we’re fully committed to making improvements to our service for our customers – both service providers and consumers – and we want to support service providers, including Costs Lawyers, to do the same.

This overview of annual complaints data highlights the main complaint drivers and how to make improvements to avoid complaints. We’ve included lots of case studies, sharing examples of common complaints in each area of law as well as a suite of impact case studies that demonstrate how we determine service and how the remedy depends on the impact to the client.

The case studies bring the issues to life and remind us all that at the end of every complaint is an unhappy client. Clients rely on the profession to help them navigate complex legal processes, quite often at very stressful times in their lives.

The data in this report suggests that there are improvements to make and shows that the basics remain key. Simple customer service failings are driving a huge bulk of work our way. Poor communication is a common thread; a complaint about delay is quite often because the service provider hasn’t updated the client. A complaint about fees is often due to service providers not updating their clients as things progress. Improving communication with your clients could, therefore, have a big impact on the number of complaints you receive.

We understand that each legal professional will have different resources, approaches, and pressures, but it’s important that you view complaints handling as an integral part of your business to drive improvements to procedures and processes to address these basic service failings.

We have a suite of information available to support you to:

  1. Avoid complaints
  2. Deal with complaints effectively

Our advice desk provides you with direct access to an ombudsman. Talking to an ombudsman may help to resolve issues early on.

We’ve dealt with some interesting queries recently around obligations to provide potential clients with complaints procedures, dealing with beneficiary complaints, our approach to negligence, compensation limits and general advice on how to make improvements. The advice desk is proving to be a useful opportunity to check in with an ombudsman.

Our training pages provide online advice and guidance covering every aspect from preventing complaints to handling complaints effectively and our approach to determining suitable remedies. 

We’ll be attending various conferences and training events over the coming twelve months to discuss complaint handling and best practice, please come along or get in touch if you’d like more tailored advice.

Our learning resources pages also have a wealth of guidance documents covering best practice complaint handling, how to avoid complaints, remedies, providing good fee information, handling challenging clients and the impact of language. We also provide thematic reports which focus on different areas of law and the issues we find within.

Finally, our LeO newsletter also provides a roundup of recent guidance, event information and case studies so please sign up to keep up to date with the latest news.

To view the full report click here.

Paul McFadden, Chief Ombudsman, Legal Ombudsman

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