Everyone agrees that consumers have more information about real estate transactions at their disposal than ever before, and that has led to higher expectations for brokers and salespeople, and for the Real Estate Council of Ontario as the industry’s Ontario regulator. RECO expects transparency and accountability from the industry, but consumers and RECO’s registrants expect the same from RECO. That’s a big reason why RECO introduced its Service Standards Report Card in October 2017.
Published quarterly, the report card outlines the levels of service the public – including registrants – can expect for most services (wait times to speak to a RECO representative in person or over the phone or to process either a complaint or a registration) under normal circumstances. For example, RECO established a benchmark of processing new salesperson applications within 10 business days, and a report card target of at least 80-per-cent success in hitting that benchmark; in the fourth quarter of 2018, RECO’s staff achieved a 94-per-cent success rate.
Between 2014 and 2016, RECO had to cope with huge year-over-year complaint volumes. This created an inventory of complaints that made it difficult to move forward. At one point, it took an average of 241 days to process a complaint! This was unacceptable for a modern regulator.
My colleagues established a plan, rolled up their sleeves and worked through the inventory; bold action was required, so bold action was taken. RECO made brokers of record responsible for advertising compliance, and it refined the complaint handling process to better manage compliance inquiries and complaints. Today, RECO has a much more timely and efficient process: in 2018, the yearly average was just 82 days, but in the fourth quarter, on average, it only took only 59 days to process a complaint. That is a 75-per-cent reduction in average processing time.
The Service Standards Report Card is an important measurement, but RECO also ensures its complaints process is fair for all concerned by surveying individuals who contact RECO to lodge complaints, as well as the registrants who are the subjects of those complaints.
RECO’s survey data showed 69% overall satisfaction with the complaints process, which is up from 59% the year before. And RECO’s complaints process showed marked improvements in six out of seven categories from 2017.
There’s certainly room for improvement, but the numbers indicate RECO is on the right track regarding service standards. I’m confident those numbers will continue to improve in 2019.
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