One of the three official redress schemes in the property sector, The Property Omdubsman (TPO) reported that in 2017, the company handled a record 68% more inquiries than in 2016.
TPO entered a partnership that gives the company access to new digital channels to gather significant volumes of people who are looking for help with property-related issues.
In a keynote speech to the National Association of Estate Agents, the Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, said that through a close partnership with Yomdel, the UK’s leading provider of managed live chat, she had been able to extend her team’s opening hours to 24/7 and offer critical support to people needing help with their tenancies, property transactions or other problems with estate and letting agents.
“We hit a staggering 68% increase in the number of inquiries [in 2017]. We had found a whole new source of people who wanted to make inquiries in the middle of the night, students for one” Sporle said. “All of a sudden we were actually giving advice and guidance to a whole new range of people which was actually helping the industry, not hindering.”
But the critical impact was that the massive increase in inquiries did not lead to a huge increase in formal complaints, with complaint volumes increasing just 3% in the year.
Yomdel Founder Andy Soloman said that because his company and TPO closely collaborated, the team of Yomdel live chat operators were able to work to very high standards as a genuine extension of the in-house TPO customer care team.
“The results were simply incredible, we have been able to professionally represent TPO and effectively offer guidance and advice to people who are often experiencing tricky personal situations with a landlord or estate agent,” he said.
“Through our ground-breaking work together, TPO is perfectly positioned to secure an increased mandate from the government to be the sole property-related ombudsman redress scheme. Unlike Ombudsman services in any other sector, TPO is unique in that it is genuinely open and available to consumers 24 hours every single day,” Soloman said. “And that should be a non-negotiable requirement of all redress and consumer support services.”
A current government consultation that is likely to recommend the streamlining of the three redress schemes and the appointment of just one official ombudsman service for all property-related issues.
Sporle said that “we are clear that a single ombudsman is the right answer,” before adding that the company was investing in a modernization program which will be even more accessible to consumers. TPO surveys have shown that only 10% of people know how they can complain about an estate agent. TPO is looking to up that percentage.
SOURCE The Property Ombudsman
Edited by Victoria Haviland
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