Faisal Hussain, Chief Executive of the Double Glazing & Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS), explains why their position as an approved ADR Competent Authority gives an insight into how consumer complaints relate to the results of their Glass and Glazing Mental Health Survey 2022.
One of our roles at DGCOS is as a Chartered Trading Standard Institute approved Alterative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Competent Authority. We act as an unbiased third party in dispute resolution between consumers and installers which have not been resolved between the two parties. In that capacity, we are required to publish an ADR report on an annual basis and the 2022 report has just been made available: https://www.dgcos.org.uk/about/alternative-dispute-resolution-adr
What is interesting is the type of complaints consumers are making, and how they reflect the issues that installers reported to us via our Glass and Glazing Mental Health Survey 2022. Is it possible that by implementing improvements to mental health management we can reduce the number of consumer complaints that need dispute resolution? I believe the answer to that is ‘yes’.
Product, Customer Service and Communication
Problems with product were mentioned in 52.5% of consumer complaints that came through the DGCOS dispute resolution service between 1 August 2021 to 31 July 2022. That’s a huge number, and one we need to look at to find the cause. In our Mental Health Survey, quality of materials, suppliers’ quality issues and poor manufacturing were mentioned by respondents as being three causes of increased stress and anxiety. If installers are not getting the right product to the right quality, this has a knock-on effect on the service they are able to provide. As the consumer-facing team, installers are being blamed for issues that are caused further up the supply chain.
This leads me to customer service. 12.5% of consumer complaints were about poor customer service. Again, our Mental Health Survey highlighted that an unreliable supply chain, longer lead times and being kept in the dark by suppliers about delays puts installers in a position where they are unable to provide the levels of customer service that they would expect. Communication is key here. The more information installers have, the more they can communicate with their customers and manage their expectations. If they are unable to do this, it adds more stress into the delivery of projects and puts teams under more pressure than they can sometimes cope with.
Quality Control and Succession Management
23.7% of our survey respondents reported that they had taken time off work in the last year due to mental health issues, a startling figure. When asked what would reduce their levels of work stress, several points were mentioned. This includes quality control from the start. It makes sense that products should undergo a QC process before dispatch, as wrong or poor- quality product is reaching installers, making it their problem. Not only would effective quality control make the manufacturing process more efficient by reducing the number of call-backs and returns, it takes the pressure off individuals further down the supply chain who are dealing with disgruntled customers.
Another issue is the lack of younger people coming into the industry. They may not see it as a viable career. It is a worry that is raised repeatedly throughout the industry but training, apprenticeships and schemes to promote the glazing sector to a younger generation are cited as key action points that installers want to see. One respondent to our survey highlighted worries about the future of his business when his staff retire. Working under those circumstances adds more pressure to companies who are doing their all to keep going and serve their customers well.
If our aim as an industry is to work efficiently, effectively and to safeguard our colleagues’ mental health, reports like the ADR report help us to identify areas that need to be addressed. To help combat these issues, I am inviting people to join my Fenestration Working Group so if you are motivated to help, please email me directly at [email protected].