Better complaints-handling could make firms more profitable and boost the legal sector by millions of pounds, according to research published by the Legal Ombudsman today.  

The research, carried out by consultants Economic Insight for the ombudsman, suggests the legal sector could reap net benefits of between £53m and £80m over 10 years - and firms increase their operating profits by 3% - by improving the way complaints are dealt with.
According to the report, there is ‘significant’ scope to improve complaints handling despite the reputational and commercial damage caused by not having a process that meets clients’ needs, 

Some firms, it suggests, underestimate the commercial incentive to handle complaints properly, because they do not appreciate the importance customers attach to it, and see the process only as an added cost.

Adam Sampson, chief ombudsman, said: ‘For too long now the discussion around complaints has been that practitioners must do it because the rulebook says so.

‘This report isn’t conclusive – but it does give us some sound economic analysis of what’s in it for lawyers when they are thinking about complaints and how they can benefit from taking them seriously; and not just because regulators tell them that they must.’ 
Dean Dunham, founder of consumer advice site Consumer UK said: ‘Good complaint-handling and learning from past mistakes is imperative for modern law firms. Clients are a sought after commodity and with competition in the legal services market increasing, clients will only provide repeat business if they feel that they were provided with a good service, were valued and were listened to when they felt the need to complain.’
Durham warned: ‘An unhappy client will not only never cross your threshold again but in the internet age will now let their displeasure be known for the world at large to see.’