The Impact of the Rail Ombudsman

2nd May 2019

Given its recent launch on 26th November 2018,  the true impact of the Rail Ombudsman remains to be seen. As an independent, not-for-profit organisation run by the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, which has a background in specialist dispute resolution, it’s very well placed to resolve disputed customer complaints with train companies.

Due to the fact that the Ombudsman is not only able to ask train companies to reconsider their position – but also has the power to enforce it – there are likely to be a number of knock-on effects.

Incentive for Improvement

Rail Minister, Andrew Jones, said of the appointment of the Ombudsman:

“Rail firms must take this opportunity to improve their complaints process and to increase customer satisfaction.”

As the Ombudsman can take on a complaint in the case of deadlock, or if there’s no response after 40 working days, there’s clear incentive for rail companies to overhaul complaint handling systems to improve both the speed and the quality of customer resolution. Too many adverse rulings would, after all, prove very costly for your company.

Complaint handling within the rail industry is therefore more important than ever. Optimised CRM systems can ensure that your customer service teams are able to provide a high-level, personal customer experience, within the required time frame, vastly reducing the chance that the Ombudsman will need to be involved at all.

Raised Standards in the Industry

Increased focus on complaint resolution targets is likely to result in higher standards across the industry as a whole; both within complaint handling, and the level of service provided in general – the better the service, the fewer complaints that will be made in the first place.

The Rail Ombudsman is able to support you, assisting in listening and understanding your customers, in order to help improve the services you offer. In the last quarter, 4 train operators increased the proportion of complaints responded to within 20 days – so that they met the industry requirement of 95%, which they failed to do at this time last year.

Increased Customer Confidence

The way in which complaints are managed greatly affects the customer perception of your company. A complaint that’s handled incredibly well is a positive experience, and often results in the customer trusting your company and intending to use your services again, despite the original issue.

The Ombudsman is therefore in the perfect position to build confidence in rail companies through increasing customer satisfaction and fostering a positive relationship. A dispute resolution process, such as that involving the Ombudsman, is far more likely to maintain (or even recover) a good relationship than a court process.

The Rail Ombudsman therefore has the opportunity to build passengers’ trust in the rail industry as a whole, as they can have more faith in the effective resolution of complaints, should anything go wrong.

It remains to be seen whether the Rail Ombudsman will have these effects. The scheme is being monitored closely, and the Ombudsman will be publishing the first set of data in July of this year.

Whatever the result may be, there’s no doubt that the speed and effectiveness of complaint resolution plays a huge part in the customer perception of rail companies, which in turn impacts profits, and their wider success.

If you would like to find out more about how a specialised CRM system can help meet targets and increase the level of customer service your train operating company provides, please contact us here.

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