FOS has been piloting a new compulsory conciliation stage in our dispute resolution process.
We introduced conciliation as a required step for all (non-financial difficulty) disputes with two participating financial services providers, a bank and an insurer, from 1 June to 30 September 2016. The objective was to increase the number of conciliations in the hope we would provide a more efficient service and increase overall satisfaction of the parties.
The findings from the pilot were quite positive. The inclusion of a conciliation stage in the disputes resulted in a trend to earlier resolution. FOS staff also reported the resolution of some disputes in conciliation that, under normal circumstances, they would not have referred to conciliation because they did not believe it would be resolved.
We did not see a decrease in the rate of resolutions through conciliation between the pilot and normal processes, suggesting the normal process of selecting only disputes thought appropriate for a conciliation can be broadened.
It was apparent from overall resolution times that efficiencies under the new process were gained. Even when disputes weren’t resolved during conciliation, the focus of the dispute was narrowed, resulting in faster and more efficient resolution following the conciliation.
Further adjustment is needed in some areas, including how we schedule conciliations with the parties and ensuring we have available conciliation resources to conduct a conciliation as quickly as possible.
Overall, the findings indicate that a greater use of conciliations in disputes increases the timeliness and efficiency of dispute resolutions, as well as improving the satisfaction of all parties.
Given this, we are expanding the pilot to include additional FSPs, and will review the benefits again to see if the learnings and trends remain constant when applied to a larger group of disputes.