The retro 2000s

Caroline talks about the problems of not moving with the times and DISP

If you saw my video blog this week, you’ll know that I’ve got a bit of an issue (OK a few issues) with DISP. And as much as it pains me to write this, it’s because none of us are getting any younger and that includes DISP.

My biggest issue is that it was written at a time when many of us were wigging out to the likes of Blue, Five and Destiny’s Child. Don’t judge me. Metallic clothes were ‘in’ (apparently) and dress down Friday’s were becoming a regular ‘thing’. Mobile phones had this option called text messaging with many of us being proud owners of a Nokia 3110, or if you were a bit edgy, a Motorola Rzr. Some of us even had something called an i-Pod. And Now That’s What I Call Music issued three monster CDs that year – 48, 49 and 50 if you’re interested in a trip down memory lane. All classics.

Does that feel like an age ago now? Yes? That’s because it was *sigh*.

And now we are heading rapidly towards 2020 and unlike the song ‘Bootylicious’, the DISP rules haven’t aged as well. As consumers we have moved on. We expect more. We expect it quicker. We expect it better. Things have moved on at one heck of a pace, leaving DISP eating our technological and consumer-centric dust.

DISP simply isn’t the blueprint of great customer service anymore – and to be truthful it hasn’t been for many years. As businesses we need to do more, do it quicker, do it better and do it through different channels. We need to think in ways that mean we can demonstrate to the consumer we have heard them and acted, in plain and simple terms.

Which brings bring me on to the other pet peeve I have when it comes to DISP, how it’s written and how businesses use it. And as it’s our feature this month, I’ll focus on the section on ‘jurisdiction’.

So, I don’t think any customer would thank a business for cutting and pasting any bit of DISP into a final response letter. But we still see that happening – and it seems to crop up when jurisdiction is in the frame. Sarah talked in her last blog about the importance of ‘knowing enough’, and jurisdiction is one of those areas that people still don’t quite understand or get right.

I do wonder if the cut and paste finger of doom comes into play when someone doesn’t know how to explain jurisdiction in a form of words that makes sense to them, or they don’t have the inclination to find out more. Sometimes I still see it crop up when the business/complaint handler can’t be arsed to reply in full. But, we get it, DISP is written in an opaque, pseudo-legalese language that can leave us as businesses scratching our heads, and overall most people are trying to do the best they can with what they have at their fingertips.

To go back a step though, I think any kind of communication to a customer about jurisdiction needs to be handled extremely well. Especially when a business believes that a customer’s complaint is ‘out of time’. Or as I like to call it, they’ve left it too late to complain.

It’s a tough message to give in a good way. The business has every right to call it out when a complaint has been made too late in the day. But the challenge is not making it come across in a way that leaves a customer with a mental picture of the business rubbing its hands together gleefully (picture a Fagin or Scrooge like character) at the realisation that it has found a ‘get out clause’.

We often see businesses try and soften the blow by investigating and responding to the complaint. For us, this makes absolute sense. Quite often – irrespective of any time limits – the customer has a point and in all good conscience the business can’t turn away and let that situation continue, just because the customer has come to the party too late.

We also still see final response letters that don’t include the paragraph about having six months to go to FOS. Or complaints handlers that do include the paragraph but then continue to have conversations or debates (usually) with a customer. Both have consequences for businesses because they can leave the door open to FOS longer.

My final thought on the matter. If you are going to ‘use’ jurisdiction for any reason, handle it with care. Make sure you understand it – and the intention behind it. Make sure, you can explain it to the customer in a way that they can understand and make sure you ‘know enough’ to use it in the right way.

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