Slide 1: Hello and welcome to the OISC Consumer Satisfaction online presentation.
The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner regulates immigration advisers in both the commercial and voluntary sector, ensuring they are fit and competent and act in the best interest of their clients.
One of the ways to achieve this is to spread good practice throughout the sector of immigration advice. Consumer satisfaction is an important factor in this.
Slide 2: Aims
This online presentation is aimed at all OISC authorised advisers and will consider what consumer satisfaction is and how it is achieved.
We will begin by looking at what we mean by client care and consumer satisfaction and why they matter to us. We will then look at the client’s journey, consider why consumer satisfaction is a challenge and what good service looks like.
This will be followed by a review of the client care letter, how to evaluate consumer satisfaction and how to improve service.
Slide 3: Objective
The objective of this online presentation is to encourage high standards in client care and improved consumer satisfaction
During the 2016/17 business year, 65% of premises audits found advisers to be in breach of Codes that relate to diligence in client care, and 95% of complaint determinations that were substantiated found this to be a failing in the organisation.
Why is this a problem?
A well known customer service quote is that ‘it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer’.
The OISC wants advisers to stay in business, building up their knowledge and experience and as a result creating an environment where there is a ready supply of good quality immigration advisers. It is part of our statutory duty.
Slide 4: The Client Journey
The client journey starts with your marketing information. Is it up-to-date, clear and factual in terms of who you are and what you do? Do you display the OISC logo and your registration number?
Your client’s initial expectations will be set according to your marketing material and then later from your client care letter which should clearly set out your service standards and what clients can do if these are not met. The OISC sets the minimum service standards we require but you can exceed these - you can be excellent!
Do you meet these expectations? If your client is expecting teams of lawyers in a fancy glass setting courtesy of your website photo and your office fails to meet this, you immediately start with a disappointed and mistrustful client.
However, if you promise the client a one-to- one comprehensive service with someone who spends time with them and explains the processes involved, and you deliver this, they will be satisfied. If you can make your client feel they are your number one priority and that you are going out of your way to make the whole process as easy for them as possible, then they are likely to be delighted and delighted is what you are aiming for.
The outcome of the client’s case is likely to affect their opinion of your performance, but a successful outcome is no guarantee that they are going to recommend you to someone else. Similarly, a poor result does not need to make for a poor client experience.
Later we will look in a bit more detail at how you measure your own performance.
Slide 5: Indicators of Consumer Satisfaction
There are 9 indicators of consumer satisfaction. Do you meet these indicators?
Are you reliable in that you deliver what you agreed?
How quickly do you react to issues raised by your client or their case?
How effectively do you communicate with your client and with other relevant parties? Are you clear in your communications?
How easy it is for your clients to contact you or approach you?
Offering security to your clients is important and that is why the OISC requires you to have Professional Indemnity Insurance and why there is a complaints scheme in place.
In order to remain competent and credible, you must keep yourself up-to-date by undertaking CPD; ensure that you only act within your authorised levels and categories, and show honesty and integrity in your dealings with clients, the Home Office and the courts.
Your office should present your client with the impression of a professional, successful and sustainable business
It is important that you show due respect, politeness and courtesy to all - clearly being polite and respectful to your clients is paramount. No matter how needy the client might be or how emotional or difficult they might act, you are the professional and should maintain a professional demeanour at all time.
We can very easily make assumptions about our clients. You are in the privileged position of being given a great deal of personal detail about your clients immigration history but this does not necessarily mean you will know their individual needs as these may not be apparent. In this area of work you should be particularly mindful of people who are vulnerable and take special measures when you are working with such clients.
Slide 6: Challenges in Client Care and Satisfaction
What are the challenges in client care and consumer satisfaction?
When gauging the quality of service, caseworkers often hear advisers talking more of the result of the application than with client care. The two are not mutually exclusive – good client care does not mean neglecting the outcome of the case
We often see organisations looking to expand their business by bringing in new clients but this must not be done at the expense of delivering client care. Growing the business and delivering client care are not mutually exclusive – in fact good client care should be a key part of doing so.
Some advisers may want to impress their clients with a long, complex and legally heavy client care letter, but this will most probably cause confusion and misunderstanding about the service you will provide. It is far better to have a letter that is written in simple English, clear and concise so that the client understands exactly the service you are offering them.
There is an assumption that client care is wasted time which could be better spent on obtaining a successful case. This is fine if things go well in terms of the result but the outcome may not be in your control. It is important to check facts and details with clients. If correct systems are in place, the time required can be managed in a proportionate way.
Another thing to consider is that clients need to be treated differently and according to their requirements.
Some clients may prefer being involved in their case rather than having the view of ‘leave it to the professionals’. They would not consider it to be good customer care to be kept out of developments that might affect their case.
Slide 7: A Good Client Care Letter
One of the most important ways to ensure consumer satisfaction is to have a good client care letter that you adhere to and also to have a client closure letter, a requirement that was introduced into the OISC Codes in 2016.
A good client care letter will:
Assure the client that you have listened and understood what they need
Build your credibility by showing that you know what action should be taken
Set realistic expectations for the work involved and the chances of success
Explain how they can access you, access their file and how they can complain if things go wrong
Demonstrate that you are transparent on costs and fees
Empower the client to decide if they wish to instruct you
Slide 8: A good closure Letter
A good closure letter will:
Explain to the client their immigration status
Clarify the financial position in relation to fees and charges
Provide a list of returned documents and documents awaiting return
Thank the client for their business and, if relevant, detail when their next application is due
What are the tools to assess quality? There are a number of quality indicators you can use to gauge your organisation’s performance and evaluate your clients’ experience.
The successful outcome and time spent on a case are clear objective measures and are easy to quantify. They are signs that you are doing something right and a part reflection on your competence, but not a full reflection as you could be giving the best advice and still have a negative outcome.
However, on its own this is not necessarily a sign that your consumer service was good and it is important to evaluate your processes to see if they can be improved.
Complaints and OISC audits are not to be feared but do need to be taken seriously as they should direct you to where improvements might be made. It’s too easy to only listen to the clients who give you positive feedback and to be defensive or ignore those who complain about your service. Unhappy consumers tell on average 9-15 people about their experience!
Surveys can provide valuable information and be carried out easily in a number of different ways. The worst result is that some clients don’t respond. The best is not only that your clients know you care about what they think, but that you can then improve as a result.
The most successful businesses usually encourage an environment where people feel free to give feedback at any time and take that feedback on board. Show you are interested by actively seeking feedback at meetings with staff and clients.
Ask yourself, who are the clients who withdraw instruction and why did they withdraw and go elsewhere. Afterwards you can re-evaluate the case and look for signs that the customer was unhappy and make changes where necessary
Slide 10: Client Survey
A client survey can be put onto your website or can be on a form that you ask your clients to fill out when their case is closed. It doesn’t need to be complicated but should cover a variety of issues that relate to the quality of your customer service. For example, you could ask clients to grade different parts of your service on a scale of 1-10.
Put simply, if you are generally being scored at 7 or above, then it is likely that you are on the right track, and that importantly for you, the client is more likely to instruct you again, or refer their friends to you.
If you score 6 or below, then this is a good indication that clients are not happy and that you may not see them again when they need advice in future.
Do bear in mind that even if you do receive positive feedback, you should still be constantly looking at ways to improve your consumer service.
Slide 11: Evaluate, Improve and Innovate
Think about the qualities that lead to good client care and high rates of consumer satisfaction and keep these in mind as you evaluate yourself. Consider if you are meeting or even exceeding your clients’ expectations. If you are not, then where can improvements be made?
There are a number of ways this can be done:
Talk to staff
Where might improvements be made?
Revise policies and procedures
Think outside the box - Innovate
Think about CPD - what skills do staff need?
Set realistic objectives
Create a business plan for improved consumer services
Slide 12: Action Points to Take Away
Going forward, think about undertaking a client survey as soon as you can, evaluate the results and make changes accordingly. Then repeat this in approximately 6 months time to find out if the changes you have made have resulted in an increase in client satisfaction.
Regularly review your marketing and watch what your competitors are doing, including solicitors and barristers.
The most important and useful way to ensure good consumer satisfaction is to comply with the OISC Codes. Ensure that you and your staff are familiar with them as they have been introduced to benefit both clients and advisers.
Slide 13: Outcomes
Now that we have come to the end of this online presentation, you should:-
Understand the factors that affect client care and consumer satisfaction
Consider why this can be challenging
Consider why this is important
Plan for Improvement
Slide 14: Evaluation
Thank you for taking your time to complete this online presentation and we hope that you have found it to be interesting and useful.
We would now be grateful for your feedback on this online presentation so please complete the evaluation which is accessed via the link on the OISC website. Your feedback is very important to us to ensure that the training we provide is relevant, useful and interesting to all advisers and will also help in planning future online presentations.