PPI continues to negate the positive improvements banks are making to improve consumer outcomes says complaints expert.

Tue 8th July 2014

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) annual review for 2013/14 has revealed that the service answered 2.3 million enquiries from consumers and settled a record 518,778 disputes – more than double the number of the previous year. 

However Paul Clark, CEO of Charter UK, says that while at first glance such a huge rise in the number of cases the FOS dealt with sounds extremely negative, it is important to distinguish that 78 per cent of these cases were PPI- related. 

"What the FOS figures do not show is that some banks are actually making significant improvements in reducing their complaints in other areas. Complaints related to credit cards, for example, dropped by 47 per cent," he says. 

"Tony Boorman, the Chief Ombudsman, has stated that people are simply looking for honest, straightforward answers that show someone has listened and helped make sense of things – and he is exactly right. 

"However, there are still many banks out there that have a lot of work to do before they can make this vision a reality, especially as the uphold rates published by the FOS have gone up to 58 per cent compared with 49 cent the year before." 

Mr Clark points out that instead of simply pursuing the bare minimum that is required for regulatory compliance, firms need to tap into value of customer feedback and use it to make the changes that really matter. 

And he further suggests that by adopting this approach, firms will not only boost customer satisfaction and appease the regulator, but will also help to deliver significant financial and operational benefits for the organisation. 

"The first step on this journey is to make sure that the right people, processes and platforms are in place to understand customers' concerns and identify exactly what is causing them," he says. "After all, unless a firm can determine the root cause of a problem, it will be impossible to fix it – which means that complaints will continue to rise."