Financial services businesses can benefit from getting complaints as they provide valuable feedback on how the firm is doing, acting chief executive of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Tony Boorman has said.
Writing in the latest issue of the Ombudsman's newsletter, Boorman said the FOS has "no axe to grind" and wants to help firms make the most of the complaints they are getting.
He advised firms to not get "too fixated" on the complaints numbers the FOS issues periodically and instead learn from the judgements involved in solving the complaints.
For instance, complaints data can help a business identify the areas or products that "really get up people's noses", he suggested.
Boorman said: "Of course we publish a great deal about how many cases we receive - and our uphold rate. And at some level, these metrics can tell you something. But there's a danger of becoming too fixated on the data.
"Complaints are qualitative judgements. One really serious case may tell you far more about a business than dozens of straightforward ones.
"So when you think about using complaint insights, it pays to think less about the quantitative and more about the qualitative judgements involved."
Boorman praised firms for working to develop products that minimise the causes of complaints but he warned firms against trying to suppress consumer gripes.
"The starting point needs to be whether customers are given the right opportunities to raise concerns and complaints. Indeed a lot of businesses and services might benefit from getting more complaints and feedback not less," he wrote.
FOS complaints data published earlier this month showed the number of complaints upheld against networks and national advice firms dropped in the last half year.
Boorman became acting chief ombudsman last November when Natalie Ceeney stepped down from her post after four years in office. She later joined HSBC but said the decision to leave the FOS was unrelated.
See more about complaints handling HERE.
Smoking biggest culprit; obesity second
Average earner will gain £840 in 2018
Will also move heritage items
Responding to letter from Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan