But the panel, which was set up by the ABI as an independent body to oversee Customer Impact Scheme, says it is encouraged by the increased participation in the Customer Impact Scheme, which now has 31 member companies and covers 85 per cent of the market.
The annual report from the panel says the spread of results from the industry shows the progress that some firms are making, but also “how far some are falling short, putting at risk the industry’s reputation”.
The industry performed worse in this year’s survey results assessing consumers’ perception of the information and service from providers when they bought a product.
The panel reports that 53 per cent of customers rated the sales process highly this year, down from 57 per cent last year and so it recommends that firms conduct gap analysis to try and improve scores.
The panel is calling for the ABI to look at the scheme again in light of the FSA’s Treating Customers Fairly initiative to ensure that they are properly aligned.
The report also identifies weakness in firm’s complaints handling processes, as although the overall number of complaints decreased, the percentage of people that felt their complaints had been handled badly increased 7 per cent to 57 per cent.
Written communications were also an area in which the panel believes the industry needs to do more as the survey results show the communications are not always effective in prompting consumers to take action.
There was no improvement in consumer’s view of after-sale service this year and the panel also criticised the industry for not always presenting a balanced picture when reporting on their own performance under the Customer Impact Scheme.
Chair of the customer impact panel Melanie Johnson says the panel’s first report was received positively by the ABI board and considerable work has been done over the past year.
But she says: “There is more to do. The scheme’s long-term objective is to improve outcomes for customers, and the good work that has started must be built upon to achieve this.
“We’re recommending that firms review their complaint handling processes to ensure improvements continue, and that the valuable insights complaints provide are captured and acted upon”
ABI director general Stephen Haddrill says: “We are pleased that the panel acknowledges the work that has been undertaken over the past year, and we value the panel’s input on the areas where we need to improve. We will work with our members in the coming months to implement its recommendations.”