Schemes should consider more modern ways of engaging with complaining members as this could solve conflicts more quickly, Anthony Arter says.
The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) argued schemes that deal with complaints via letters might want to review their strategy.
A telephone call that establishes contact with the member directly is one approach that could save time and money in the long run.
Arter explained solid communication with members is one of the most important elements in running a successful scheme. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with sensitive issues or concerns.
Speaking at an Institute and Faculty of Actuaries conference today, Arter said: "Communication is vital and each scheme has to engage with members in the manner it thinks is most appropriate for members. But schemes should look at their procedures for dealing with complaints.
"Resolving any dispute or complaint is all about effective communication. Therefore writing a letter might not always be the best way to handle these things.
"Obviously this all depends on the size of the scheme and resources available, but where possible they should engage with members directly."
A benefit for TPO might be fewer cases would have to go through the formal Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure (IDPR).
Arter, who has been the ombudsman since 2015, pointed to the reforms the service has made to streamline the resolution process and improve communications with the public.
An important reform has been the creation of two teams: one to deal with simple cases and another to deal with more complex ones. Another measure, where people are contacted on the phone directly, has led to disputes being resolved more quickly and cut the need for a determination, the ombudsman said.
TPO is also planning to take over The Pensions Advisory Service's (TPAS) dispute resolution process in a bid to reduce duplication.
According to TPO's last annual report, published in July, these reforms led to 40% of investigations being completed within six months in 2016/17 compared with 25% the previous year.
"I would like us to get to situation where it takes no more than 18 months for the process of a complaint to be handled, so from the date it is issued and for TPO to rule on it via the IDPR."
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