A study* by BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) highlights the positive benefits of using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) on complaint handling practices.

Traders who have used litigation do not appear to have become more responsive to customer complaints following their experience with the courts, as compared to traders who used dispute resolution.

“While the court process appears to have led to a number of traders being more cautious and clearer regarding their offering (with little direct impact on customer service), interviews with traders who used ADR bear witness to a generally positive impact of the ADR process on business practices, especially related to increased consumer focus and the process.”

During interviews with businesses who had used ADR to resolve a consumer dispute, collaboration with the ADR was mentioned as positively influencing the consumer relationship and stopping clients who endlessly try to escalate a case. The interviewees also indicated the ADR was professional, quick, lead to fair outcomes and helped resolve deadlocks. One company indicated that both the ADR provider and the trader had mutually learned from each other as good practices were exchanged.

Impact on traders – the court process

  • Results from the survey suggest that the majority of traders generally do not change their complaints-handling processes nor their business practices after their experience with the courts.
  • The study found that 79% of traders did not change their complaints-handling processes following a court case.
  • Of those who did make changes, very few indicated that they now offer greater guidance to customers on dealing with complaints. Instead, changes revolved around minimising misunderstandings (i.e. the trader is more careful with wording on quotes/changed terms and conditions/making customers aware).
  • The study suggests that the court process tends to make traders more cautious and clearer regarding their offered goods and/or services and the terms and conditions of purchase.

Impact on traders – the ADR process

  • The survey suggests that traders who use the ADR process adopt a faster and more customer-oriented approach.
  • Collaboration with the ADR process was mentioned as positively influencing the consumer relationship and stopping clients who endlessly try to escalate a case.
  • ADR providers help traders to improve their business practices and complaints-handling procedures. Traders that have used ADR mentioned the following impacts:
    • Becoming more customer-oriented
    • Addressing issues faster
    • Contributing to increased customer focus, which ultimately drove customer satisfaction
    • Adapting processes and the training
    • Investigating the very root cause of the problem their customers are experiencing
  • The survey also showed that 43% of ADR providers offer guidance to help businesses improve their practices and complaints processes, while 30% offer workshops or training courses

It is clear that not only does ADR have a more positive impact on complaint-handling that going through the court process, but businesses also indicated that

“ADR was professional, quick, lead to fair outcomes and able to resolve deadlocks.”

And it’s not only businesses that benefit. The study also highlighted that 62% of consumers who used ADR found the process simple, quicker and cheaper than using the courts to resolve a dispute.

Wider Benefits of using ADR

  • Financial savings vs increasing litigation costs
  • Savings on time and being able to free up internal resources
  • Helping protect and improve reputation
  • Driving better outcomes for both businesses and consumers
  • Ensuring fairness and impartiality
  • Avoiding costly compensation

QASSS offers award-winning and industry-leading dispute resolution services to the home improvement and renewable energy sectors. To find out about our services, read more here, or contact Laura Holmes, Service Delivery manager on 0161 676 0919 or email [email protected]


*Resolving consumer disputes. Alternative dispute resolution and the court system. Final Report.


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