In the space of a week, since going live with our research project on complaint numbers and complaint handling by practitioners, we are delighted to learn from TNS-BMRB that a significant number of Client Relations Managers from firms across Scotland have already taken part in the telephone questionnaires. This is extremely encouraging.
We would like to reiterate that the participation of Client Relations Managers is critical to the success of this research. Whether you are a sole practitioner or part of a large multi-partner firm, your experience of complaint handling and the systems which you have in place to manage complaints is extremely important information.
It is envisaged that the results of the research will assist the SLCC in providing advice, guidance and support in relation to complaints handling in the future. This will add value and reduce costs to the profession in the long term.
As part of its oversight role the SLCC monitors complaints and identifies trends in practice, in relation to how practitioners deal with complaints and the subject of those complaints. This includes undertaking research. The latest research the SLCC is carrying out is into complaints made to, and dealt with, by the legal profession in Scotland.
The SLCC has commissioned TNS-BMRB to carry out research into:
- the numbers of complaints which solicitors and advocates deal with on an annual basis, including those made directly to the practitioners which are never referred to the SLCC, and complaints which are made through the SLCC's complaints process; and
- whether the number and types of transactions carried out by practitioners have any correlation to numbers of complaints received by the SLCC.
During April and May 2012, TNS-BMRB will be contacting Client Relations Managers (CRMs) and advocates for information about their practice (where applicable) and complaints, including:
- the size of the firm (e.g. number of partners and Scottish qualified staff practising in Scotland);
- scope of practice areas;
- the number of transactions, by practice area, the firm dealt with in the last 3 years;
- the number of complaints received in the last 3 years, by practice area; and
- from whom complaints originate (e.g. from clients or other third parties).
For CRMs, the research will be conducted via a telephone interview, which should take an average of 7 - 10 minutes. A data sheet will be emailed in advance of the interview to allow CRMs time to retrieve records and to use that information as an aide memoire during the interview. Advocates will be sent questionnaires to complete and return by post.
The SLCC aims to collate information about general complaint handling and expertise employed by those who deal with complaints, and to identify whether there are any unmet training needs.
Practitioners will be asked about:
- the processes and procedures in place to deal with and record complaints;
- how complaints are disposed of;
- the outcome of complaints (e.g. resolved, action taken where complainer remains dissatisfied); and
- the level, frequency and type of training (either internally or externally) which they have received regarding complaint handling, how to improve services to prevent/avoid complaints and client care, and how this knowledge and training is disseminated to employees.
The telephone interviews will be carried out during the first few weeks of May 2012. Advocates should receive their information pack in the first week of May. Once all data has been obtained from the telephone interviews, the information will be collated, scrutinised and a report prepared by TNS-BMRB. The SLCC will publish a report on its research in due course.
The participation of practitioners is critical to the success of this research and to enabling the SLCC to provide advice, guidance and support in relation to complaints handling in the future which adds value to and reduces costs to the profession.