Improving Complaint Handling + Retaining Employees in Tough Times

Improving Complaint Handling + Retaining Employees in Tough Times


Speed Read

Following a merger, A+O assisted a major bank in stabilising and improving unwieldy Complaint Handling Centres. We provided a change expert with the right experience and supported her when the assignment became increasingly complex. Our specialist delivered best practise whilst managing an exponential growth in complaint handling across England and Wales. Our toughest challenge however was successfully boosting morale, motivating, retaining and retraining skilled colleagues during a period of intense PPI activity, fluctuating change and uncertainty.

"Although David had followed my career and kept in touch for years ,this was my first assignment for Adams + Oliver. In fact, nobody had ever represented me before. David understood the challenges I faced in this complex role and everybody at A+O offered fantastic support throughout."
-Acting Head of Complaint Handling, Major Bank

Eliminating Inefficiency + Achieving Best Practise

A major bank came to us with the change requirement to stabilise and improve the Complaint Handling Centres of another brand they had acquired.

We worked with them to analyse their issues and then match them with a customer services champion we’d known for years, a highly experienced expert who had exactly the right attributes for the assignment.

With our support, she hit the ground running. She indentified efficiencies and examples of best practise within teams across England and quickly won over her colleagues at an operational level by opening up communication and eliminating inefficiencies. This was by no means an easy task and it quickly became more complicated than anyone had anticipated.

Resolving Grievance + Building Faith

In addition to reorganising operations following the merger, our expert inherited significant HR legacy issues. Following allegations of bullying and poor management, the majority of employees had signed a collective grievance against their former employer and morale was low. Her approach was to work directly with trade unions and swiftly issue a public apology.

The next step was to implement open plan offices and open honest communication with ‘colleague clinics’ and engagement forums. In doing so, she was able to resolve the issues, smooth industrial relations and build employee faith in the new management.

But this was only the start of the story.

Demanding Complications + Smoothly Handled

Just one month into the role, Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) complaints for the entire bank were merged under our supervision. This was an operational nightmare with teams spread throughout England and Wales. Worse, with intense media attention on the probable mis-selling of PPI, there was a growing deluge of complaints; an additional 6,000 calls to handle every single week.

FSA regulations required a 40 working day turnaround; making it critical to get this complex operations exercise absolutely right.

Our specialist successfully established additional Complaint Handling Centres to cope with the demand, all the while delivering ‘today’s work today’ despite call volume increasing by 15% every month.

Tension Builds...

New Government policy now meant the majority of PPI complaints must be upheld, resulting in mass compensation and considerable financial loss for banks.  The British Banking Association (BBA) claimed this policy was illegal and requested a Judicial Review to investigate it. Whilst this was ongoing, our client stopped handling almost all PPI cases.

Operations now hinged on the outcome of the review. If the BBA lost, our client would have to reopen thousands of claims for PPI mis-selling, and investigate past PPI sales to find which customers were entitled to compensation. In this eventuality operations would need to be increased dramatically, with additional contracted staff and complaints handling offices.

If they won the review, the majority of PPI complaints would be rejected and existing colleagues would be re-grouped.

Our expert prepared a range of potential workstreams and trialed numerous procedures for the different outcomes of the Judicial Review.  She analysed different scenarios, including procedures for PPI claims without sufficient documentation. The objective of her work was to do right by the customer, whilst limiting the financial impact for the bank and develop thorough understanding of the potential outcomes for all parties.

The Risk of Losing Skilled Staff

We had supported our expert to achieve great results so far but now a major part of the challenge was about to unfold.

Whilst the outcome of the Review was unknown, jobs were effectively in the balance. There was a strong risk of losing employees and an even higher risk of losing skilled contractors, who represented two thirds of the workforce and all lived and worked in areas where their skills were in demand.

Our goal was to act as the go-between for policy makers in the bank, the overall change programme and the live complaint handling operation. It was essential to keep staff informed without breaking trade secrets, despite the fact many were following the progress and rumor in the press. Most importantly, it was vital to keep employees reassured and motivated even though the outcome was unknown and the circumstances were out of the bank’s control.

Our expert decided to run an open and honest mass communications exercise for all 600 people affected, reassuring them of their job security.

Furthermore, she ensured that both permanent and contracted staff received training and were both re-skilled and re-grouped in the interim. This helped to keep staff motivated during this unsettled period. As a result, the bank was able to retain both skilled permanent staff and contractors.

A Successful Outcome

And the outcome? The bank decided to uphold PPI complaints and our change expert had the challenging task of scaling up operations still further to handle the exponential influx of PPI complaints now flooding the Handling Centres. She did this rapidly over a matter of weeks and as a result of her outstanding communication and retention drive, the bank had enough skilled employees primed and ready to handle the demand.

Once a final decision on PPI was made, a permanent Head of PPI was appointed and we ensured a smooth handover.