Research reveals poor record for complaint handling
Independent research carried out by London Economics and YouGov and involving more than 500 law firms and 2,000 dissatisfied users of legal services have revealed that solicitors could be handling complaint more effectively.
The research indicated that whilst two-thirds of firms believed a good legal outcome was the top client priority, only a third agreed with almost two-thirds of clients placing regular communication as their top priority, followed by clear information about costs and then information about the legal process.
The research also showed that, whilst nine out of ten firms believed there was a business benefit to dealing with complaints well (including keeping clients, improving the delivery of services and better customer insights), only a third of them provided details on the Legal Ombudsman to clients at the end of the complaints procedure
56% of the users of legal services said they had taken their complaint further, such as to us or Legal Ombudsman – a figure that could be driven down if firms acted quickly to identify and resolve issues more quickly.
The research found that most complaints are about delays or communication failures, most commonly relating to widely used legal services such as conveyancing, family law or wills and probate. When asked what people were looking for, the majority said an explanation, apology or work progressed.
Whereas firms say they are providing a final response to complaints within two months, one in five people says it took longer. Less than half said they were satisfied with the outcome of their complaint (43%), dropping to 23% for people with disabilities.
People were most likely to be satisfied when complaining about a will and least likely when complaining about family matters or litigation.
Overall, firms’ views of client’s priorities do not always match what people see as important.
The research also supported the findings of the Competition and Markets Authority that there is a lack of useful information for the public when making legal services choices.
Further details of the research can be found at www.sra.org.uk/sra/how-we-work/reports/first-tier-complaints.page