A Typical Day at the OCCS

Sep 03, 2019
Welcome back to the official Optical Consumer Complaints Service blog where we bring you the latest news and updates from our team. At the OCCS we offer a completely free and independent mediation service for both consumers of optical care and professionals. In today’s blog, OCCS Resolution Manager, Dawn Slocombe, discusses a typical day at the OCCS. 

A day at the OCCS is always varied and no two days are ever the same. During a typical working day we field calls from both practitioners and consumers who are looking for advice in regards to various concerns that they may have. Recently, we have been receiving more calls from practitioners, which shows that our impartial advice is assisting practices across the country with any issues that may need advice on. 

Generally speaking, most of the questions that optics professionals ask will relate to customer handling – patient complaints and how to deal with it. They will explain what they have done and ask whether we think that is the right thing to have done and whether we can suggest anything else. Of course, sometimes an impasse is reached when a practice has tried their very best and they just cannot move any further with it. This is normally the time when the practice will call us and ask us for some general advice.

Within the enquiries that we receive, some are within our remit and others are not. Most of the questions or issues can be categorised into the three categories of varifocals, communication and situations where the patient has had a prescription issued at one practice and dispensed somewhere else. Central to how we address mediation and dispute management is the idea that communication is key. There are many complaints that come through where the optician tries to explain the situation and the consumer is not accepting that explanation. Sometimes it is a simple thing like a practice saying ‘I’m really sorry that you have had this journey with our practice.’ An apology goes a long way.

The role itself can be divided into offering impartial advice and listening to both optics professionals and the consumer. We offer realistic expectations and a full explanation of what can be achieved during a mediation and how the service works. As a neutral organisation we don’t make any judgements or offer any opinions. 

Our ability to understand the issues involved from both sides means that we are successful in 98% of the mediations that we are responsible for; I put this down to the ability to maintain the impartiality as well as the ability to listen and understand the matter from both sides. 

For more information on our workshops contact our team by calling 0344 800 5071 or email enquiries@opticalcomplaints.co.uk
Since 1 April 2014, the OCCS has assisted over 4,500 consumers and practices to resolve their consumer complaints. Jennie Jones, head of the OCCS, explains: ‘We are delighted that the OCCS  is seen as an effective and useful service, providing independent and impartial mediation and advice. The team does an amazing job ensuring that both the consumer and the practice feel heard, understood, and importantly, helped to find a very practical resolution to the complaint. Mediation is not about judgment or deciding who is right. It is about understanding each other’s perspective to be able to find an answer both can accept. We will soon be reporting on our 4th year in action, and look forward to sharing even more insight and useful information for all involved in optics.'