Our customer service and accessibility
Our service experience team
Our cross-organisational Service Experience Team (SET) continues to drive innovation in customer service. Drawing on the team’s own experience, specialised training, and input from the Consumer Panel and others, they develop and test improvements in our processes and provide a source of support and challenge to the wider organisation in improving our customer service.
Improvements for our users
This year the Service Experience Team conducted a review and update to how we deal with complaints about our own service. Automating processes, shorter timescales and empowering case investigators to resolve issues wherever possible should help us to put things right quickly and to identify any necessary improvements.
The team also responded to concerns raised in our customer feedback about handovers between staff members and updated our standard communications to explain when and why this might happen and to ensure customers always have a named member of staff they can contact about their complaint.
SET also published a new set of communication standards, setting out what our customers can expect from us, and we have promoted these through our website and social media channel.
Following an audit of our website accessibility of our website in 21-22 we have implemented a number of significant improvements to comply with the recommendations made and to make sure our services are accessible to all. We published an accessibility statement on our website and are now implementing the next phase of this work.
When we close a complaint, at any stage of our process, we send both parties a short survey which asks about what they thought of our service. We ask whether they understood the reasons for our decision, about the quality of the information we provided, our explanation of the process, the clarity of our communications, the time we took to deal with the complaint, if we dealt with it fairly and impartially and how helpful we were. We also provide an opportunity for free text comments.
This feedback is anonymous and confidential, although we do note that if those responding wish us to respond to their comments or consider their specific case, they can provide us with a case reference number so we can investigate further.
You said, we did
A report on our customer feedback, including all of the free text comments, is considered quarterly by our Board and independent Consumer Panel. Those discussions, alongside consideration by our staff team, help us to identify improvements we could make to our service or actions we could take based on the feedback received. Some of the key actions from the past year are outlined below. Our thanks go to everyone who took the time to provide us with helpful feedback this year.
- You said “Ensure continuity of the staff dealing with the complaint or explain from the outset that the staff member dealing with the complaint could change during the process.” We did - The current complaints process, based on existing legislation, means we currently have to use different staff at different stages to make the process work. However, we conducted an audit of our template letters to check how we communicate this throughout the complaints process. We identified areas for improvement and made amendments to better explain the process and highlight when and why a complaint would be handed over to a different member of staff and to ensure our customers always have a named member of staff they can get in direct contact with.
- You said “Do not penalise practitioners when they accept a decision, but the complainer does not. This seems incredibly unfair.”
We did - We agree with this concern, but our legislation means we currently have no discretion on proceeding to formal determination when this happens. However, we have used this feedback to advocate for changes to the complaints process, which have now been included in the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill recently introduced to Parliament. We will continue to work with government and other stakeholders to make this a reality.
- You said “Your policy on compensation awards needs to be clearly defined on your website. This would help intending complainers to more realistically assess what they have to gain if successful.” We did - There is no standard amount of compensation, as every case is unique. However, we’ve updated our website with information on typical awards and case studies that people can look at to find out more information.
- You said “The process was very long but communication of delays was excellent.” We did - We always try to complete complaints as quickly as possible, but the number of steps set out in legislation and the time parties take to respond can make the process slow. We value this feedback, and it helped us encourage staff to keep updating parties regularly, even if just to say were still waiting for information and will update again in another three weeks, so that users know we are trying to progress the case and understand what is causing the delay.
- You said “This was a third-party complaint with no reasonable prospect of success. I think it should have been filtered out of the system sooner. Stress for the staff member involved over a prolonged period was unacceptable.” We did - We have a statutory duty to consider third party complaints (where the complainer is not the client of the firm or lawyer complained about). We always try to do this quickly and proportionally, but we agree the system could be improved. We have lobbied government for new powers, which other ombudsmen and complaints bodies already have, to deal with these cases more efficiently and effectively. We are pleased to see this included in the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill recently introduced to Parliament. We will continue to work with government and other stakeholders to make this a reality.
- You said “Ensure knowledge of dyslexia, dyspraxia and other neurodiversities are provided to your staff.” We did - Every year we provide training on reasonable adjustments and vulnerable users to our staff. This year we added a section specifically on the full range of neurodiversity and supported this with new content.