UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has released new guidance to all licensed operators on how to handle customer complaints.
Reviewing its policy on operating standards, the new guidance on complaints comes after the regulator undertook a review of 34 complaints policies taken from a diverse range of sectors.
The Commission’s research revealed that 8% of all gamblers in the UK had submitted a complaint at some point and the review, therefore, prioritised the accessibility and the ease of use for customers to submit complaints.
The regulator seeks to eliminate the perception that submitting a complaint was a ‘tedious process’ and that licensees are ‘purposefully difficult to reach’.
UK licensees had been informed of upcoming changes in the ‘2021/22 Business Plan’ that outlined that the Commission would “explore how to improve how licensees deal with consumers when things go wrong” and “how to improve consumer redress arrangements”.
The majority of policies reviewed met basic requirements imposed on gambling licences. However, the UKGC highlighted areas of complaint management that required improvement.
Best practices recommended include the use of a direct link to a complaints procedure section displayed on homepage.
Operators have been instructed to review their complaints guidance, which should cater to a short and clear process for complaint submissions. They are further recommended to provide customers with a ‘virtual paper trail’.
The Commission recommends the use of digital tools such as web-forms and decision trees “to help guide people through the complaints process but always have alternative methods of contact available”
Should a complaint escalate and require third-party oversight, licensees must “provide clear signposting to ADR providers”
Operators have been reminded that requirements on handling complaints procedures have been set by Social Responsibility Code 6 of the LCCP with the Commission providing further signposted guidance on complaints and disputes.
“Good complaints handling is vital in the gambling industry. We want consumers to be able to easily find and understand policies and be able to raise their complaints without any barriers,” commented Director of Policy, Ian Angus.
“We know gambling businesses receive around 200,000 complaints every year, and while the Government’s review of the Gambling Act will consider where these can be escalated to, the majority will still need to go through the licensee’s complaints process first. We want to help them handle these well, to improve outcomes for both them and consumers.”