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New pre-conciliation automation initiative improves processing times by 90 per cent

The Dispute Resolution Group at the TIO has been trialling a new pre-conciliation tool that helps process unresolved complaints and achieve faster outcomes.

The initiative was launched at the end of 2022, after the TIO began to receive higher complaint volumes as a result of the Optus data breach. The Dispute Resolution Group developed a questionnaire to obtain targeted information from consumers that would assist with more timely resolution.

This questionnaire automated the usual pre-conciliation process, cutting three steps in our process down to one, and reducing processing times by over 90 per cent.

Senior Dispute Resolution Lead of Privacy & Jurisdiction, Jerome Chapman said, "It was a really successful initiative, and of the 700 or so cases we raised to Optus for conciliation, around 70 per cent were resolved in the conciliation response period."

"This enabled us to coordinate and achieve quicker outcomes for both Optus and the consumers."

The success of the initial questionnaire led to the roll-out of this process to a wider selection of complaints from our simple and high-volume queues such as billing problems, contract disputes, handset and equipment faults, credit reporting problems, and coverage issues.

A team made up of Senior Leads, Lead Investigators, Senior Resolution, and Dispute Resolution Officers helped design pre-conciliation questionnaires for all these broader complaints. The questionnaires contained typical questions a case handler would ask a consumer based on subject matter prior to progressing a complaint to conciliation.

There was an overwhelming response from consumers to the questionnaires, and a significant volume of complaints progressed to conciliation. Almost 50% of these cases were resolved and closed at this stage.

Senior Dispute Resolution Lead of Operational Planning & Response Andrew Singh said, "It's a great outcome because it helps us provide an efficient service, and is a time saver for our people. Now they can spend more time conciliating and looking at more complex cases."

"We’re really pleased to have developed and rolled out a process to help reduce demand and improve our efficiency. We’re always looking at new effective ways of working, and actively taking input and ideas from our teams of Dispute Resolution Officers."

The questionnaires will continue to be sent at the pre-conciliation stage for simple and high-volume queues.