September 7th 2021

Not Just Refunds…

The OCCS deals with a range of complaints that cover a wide spectrum of subjects. Often, the resolution between practice and client focuses on greater communication and understanding more so than a refund or financial reimbursement.

In today’s blog we explore how our neutral and independent service is not just about refunds and look into the scope of mutually acceptable outcomes we often achieve for those who use our service.

We see the scenarios where conflicts and disputes arise and escalate. We are also privileged to see the hard work and commitment across the optical sector in striving to support patients whilst also managing individual and practice challenges and concerns.

The OCCS provided complaint mediation support for 1,411 referrals in 2020-21. Of these complaints, the two dominant categories are ‘customer care’ and ‘goods and services’. The five most common complaint scenarios referred to the OCCS in 2020-21 were:

  • Consumer complains that the prescription issued was incorrect
  • Dispensing issues
  • Delay in supply
  • Fees and charges
  • Services issues related to the attitude of practice staff.

As per our 2020/2021 annual report, key complaint insights and key trends for 2021 show:

Nature of Complaint Insight - OCCS Annual Report 2020-21

The majority of complaints received by the OCCS pertain to goods and services (36%) whilst complaints relating to charges were 29% less at 7%. But what of the outcome? A common misconception of mediation is that its goal is to seek financial reimbursement for a case. The reality is often far different from this perception.

Engagement and De-Escalation

During the course of the last year there has been more focus placed on the preliminary stages of the OCCS mediation process. This includes the complaint referrals where the OCCS resolves the complaint through advice or uses mediation techniques to de-escalate the complaint and support local resolution within the practice.

By doing this, it is possible to resolve complaints prior to engaging in the formal mediation process. The outcome data reveals that 36% of complaints in 2020-21 were resolved in the advice stage, which is a 7% increase on the previous year. This has provided parties with swifter resolutions, which has been beneficial for all involved. This is also indicative of earlier escalation where consumers may not have been able to discuss their complaint with the practice in the usual way, and therefore sought external input at any earlier stage.

Resolutions More So Than Refunds

What do resolutions tell us? OCCS Annual Report 2020-21

Indeed, examining the above pie chart we see that approximately one quarter of complaints are resolved through a refund. Often, it can be a goodwill gesture, an explanation or simply both parties reengaging that can lead to resolution.

Mediation, unlike litigation, also provides a workable framework to allow practices to improve their process and learn from what happened to avoid similar complaints going forward. It is the malleable nature of mediation, not just focusing on refunds, that allows the OCCS to support practices and clients to find beneficial solutions.

For more information on our mediation services and to speak to our team, contact the OCCS on 0344 800 5071 or via enquiries@opticalcomplaints.co.uk.

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