ICANN Ombudsman Blog Creating Dialogue Affirming Fairness

April 20, 2007

International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 9:51 am

Today marks the end of the 5th International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution in association with United Nations bodies.  The conference drew over 100 participants from 29 countries to Liverpool. The participants ranged from government officials, lawyers, mediators, students, academics, and practitioners.  I had the happy duty of chairing a session called “Transformative Conflicts and Peacebuilding” indluded presenters from Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, Tanzania, and Argentina.

The members of the forum prepared and accepted the following statement on respectful online communication.  This is the first such statement by the Forum, and represents a universal step in the management and resolution of disputes online.






Statement on Respectful Online Communication

Drafted jointly and agreed to by consensus April 20, 2007 at the 5th International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution in Liverpool, England – held in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

“While information and communications technologies (ICT) enable unprecedented interactions between individuals around the world, they also introduce some dynamics that can degrade dialogue.

ICT enables people to communicate immediately and anonymously, often without moderation, and in some circumstances this encourages behavior (such as threats or insults) that most individuals would never engage in face-to-face.

This behavior may make people feel unwelcome, disrespected, or harassed in their online interactions. Ultimately, individuals may be dissuaded by these dynamics from participating, which undermines the vibrancy of our global conversation.

As a result, we encourage individuals to:

• communicate online with respect

• listen carefully to others in order to understand their perspectives

• take responsibility for their words and actions

• keep criticism constructive

• respect diversity and be tolerant of differences

We embrace full and open communication and recognize the unique opportunity for expression in the online environment. We support freedom of speech and reject censorship. These principles are not intended to address what ideas can be expressed, but rather the tone with which communications take place.”

April 14, 2007

International Ombudsman Association Annual Conference, St. Louis

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 11:22 am

The IOA’s Annual Conference ended earlier today.  It is the largest gathering of Ombudsmen from across the globe.  This year there were several hundred particpants from North and Latin America, Europe and Asia.  I had the pleasure of presenting a paper on Ombudsman evaluation with Mr. John Zinsser, who has done the third party reviews of the evaluations conducted by this Office.  We each spoke about our roles in the evaluation process and gave information about tools which other Ombudsmen may use to develop assessment information.  I am pleased that the talk was received as one of the most informative at the conference.  We had an audience of about 90 Ombudsmen, and I enjoyed the lively questions and discussions.

April 12, 2007

Email responsiveness, an interesting study

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 10:59 am

Half of customer e-mails don’t get response: study

Last Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2007 | 2:37 PM ET

People who complain to companies via e-mail are waiting longer to get a response: a study found only a third of top firms replied within 24 hours in 2007, compared with nearly two-thirds in 2002.  

‘There isn’t a strategy in place that says it’s important to treat the customer well.’—Scott Hornstein, Hornstein Associates

Nearly half — 49 per cent — did not reply at all in 2007, down from a high of 86 per cent five years earlier, according to the customer service study by Hornstein Associates.

The Connecticut-based marketing company said this year’s 24-hour turnaround rate was the lowest since the first survey was conducted in 2001. Only 33 per cent of top firms responded within 24 hours in 2007, compared with a high of 63 per cent in 2002.

“I think it’s a lack of strategy,” Scott Hornstein, the founder of the marketing company, said of the slow turnaround time.

“I think we’ve got plenty of infrastructure, we’ve got more technology than we know what to do with. The problem is there isn’t a strategy in place that says it’s important to treat the customer well.

“We keep recreating the wheel, bringing new customers in to take the place of those who’ve had bad experiences and leave,” Hornstein told CBC News Online.

The 49 surveyed companies — which included Microsoft, GE, Toyota, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Apple and Starbucks — were drawn from the Financial Times’ list of most respected companies and Fortune’s roll of most admired companies.  

Hornstein conducted its survey by sending a one-sentence e-mail to each company, asking: “What is your corporate policy regarding the turnaround time for e-mails addressed to customer service?”

Brand building vs. quarterly performances

Robin Ritchie, a business professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, said the results of the survey aren’t surprising but are certainly disappointing.

He said the findings reflect a common but short-sighted approach.

‘Feedback from customers, good or bad, is a real opportunity to learn.’—Robin Ritchie, UWO marketing professor

“E-mailing makes complaining very easy and I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” he said. “Feedback from customers, good or bad, is a real opportunity to learn what you’re doing well and what you’re doing badly. Good companies will encourage and solicit that feedback.”

But in practice, Ritchie said, firms tend to put more money into things like advertising instead of customer support.

“I do think that firms just don’t put enough money into monitoring, handling and responding to customer feedback,” Ritchie said.

“It’s the practical reality of the short-term focus of business, which is driven in part by stock-market valuations and even performance evaluation measures used by firms that really reward performance in the last quarter or the last year rather than long-term brand-building efforts.”






I am pleased to be able to report that most emails or contact / complaint forms are responded to within the first 24 hours by the Office of the Ombudsman.  That envelope may get extended from time to time when I am in travel status and have infrequent online access.  In the client survey we conducted in August 2006, participants gave the Office of the Ombudsman a strong reply that the Office either met or exceeded their expectations for timeliness in replies.

April 7, 2007

Ombudsman to Speak at the International Ombudsman Association Annual Conference

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 1:26 pm

“Using Analytical Data to Evaluate the Performance of an Ombudsman Office – A Case Study”

Frank Fowlie, MACAM, Ombudsman, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and

Numbers (ICANN), Marina del Rey, CA

John W. Zinsser, Principal, Pacifica Human Communications LLC, Charleston, SC

This session will introduce a self-assessment tool and process which may be used by any

Ombudsman Office to measure and demonstrate performance. The process involves

comparing your operations against a number of criteria which have been drawn from the

literature. The second step in the process is a peer or third party review of your results to

test integrity of the assessment.

April 4, 2007

Ombudsman to speak at International ODR Forum

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 10:21 am

Major Online Dispute Resolution Forum Comes to Liverpool

The International Forum on ODR is to be held in the UK for the first time.

On 19 and 20 April, the 5th International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution is to take place at the University of Liverpool. Details are at www.odr.info/liverpool.


 Speakers include Sir Brian Neill, Richard Susskind, Frank Fowlie (the Ombudsman for ICANN), Colin Rule (Director of ODR at eBay and PayPal), Daewon Choi (the Director of ICT for UNESCAP), Professor Ethan Katsh (Director, Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Chairman of the UN Expert Panel on ODR), Charles Brofman (CEO of Cybersettle), Dan Rainey (Director of ADR at the National Mediation Board – Washington) , Christopher To (Secretary-General of the International Arbitration Centre in Hong Kong). 

Over 35 countries will be represented at the Forum. 

The Forum is a United Nations event (it takes place under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission) and so there is no delegate charge; all delegates do however have to be pre-registered by completing the onsite registration form. 

The Forum will include demonstrations of various ODR-related services. 

Graham Ross of the ClaimRoom.com, who is a member of the organising committee, is especially keen to see SCL members attend this event: ‘2007 does seem the year when ODR is beginning to move forward’ he said.

from:  http://www.scl.org/editorial.asp?i=1504 

April 2, 2007

Home From Lisbon meeting (minus baggage) and the One World Trust Report

Filed under: general,icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 9:36 am

The ICANN Meeting at Lisbon has ended, and I have made it home.


It was really one of the best organized, run, and professional meetings I have attended at ICANN.  The local hosts did a great job.  The agenda was full.  Our new Manager of Public Participation came up with great ideas to provide access to the remote community.  There were lively and important discussions, and the Board of Directors (who seem to all be going 16 hours a day) made some tough decisions at a public board meeting.  Consumer concerns over the registerfly registrar was were a constant topic of work and conversation, and ICANN continues to deal with this as an issue.  The ICANN staff out in a lot of hard yards at this meeting.  Big issues to develop briefs on, and long hours of work, not just on the meeting, but on their day jobs (i.e. registerfly).  I continue to be impressed with the very dedicated group of people.

It has been especially interesting to monitor the interactions between registrants on the ICANN blog as they share experiences, and then startegies for moving domain names away from registerfly.  Paul Levins has been busy responding to each post, and keeping the community updated.

I had several one on one, and a large group meeting with the At Large Advisory Committee.

On an overview of transparency and accountability, ICANN released the the One World Trust report. http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-4-29mar07.htm   “The report says that overall ICANN is a very transparent organisation, noting that it shares a large quantity of information through its website, probably more than any other global organisation.”


The report references the Office of the Ombudsman in several places, and devotes the following summary to the Office:

7.2 Ombudsman

103. The Ombudsman plays an important role within ICANN as an informal

alternative dispute resolution mechanism. Since its formation, it has reduced the

number of complaints handled through the formal complaint channels of the

Reconsideration Committee. As the Ombudsman’s office continues to reach out to

the community and raises awareness of the function within the ICANN community,

there is the distinct possibility that the number of complaints it has to handle will

increase. The office’s user group is the entire Internet community, yet it is currently

staffed by a single full time Ombudsman and an adjunct Ombudsman that provides

holiday cover. To ensure the continued effectiveness of the office, ICANN should

continue to support the Ombudsman through the adjunct Ombudsman and also

consider recruiting an additional full time member staff to provide administrative

support to the office.

Recommendation 4.3: ICANN should consider strengthening the capacity of the

Ombudsman’s office by recruiting full time administrative support for the


So, we were a party of four that checked 8 bags in for travel back to Canada.  On the flight from Heathrow to Montreal I was handed a note from the cabin crew that said that my bags liked Heathrow so much, that they decided to stay for an extra day or two.  Apparently all of other bags in our party decided that they did want to make it home with their owners.  Now, I am just not sure how you hive off 25 per cent of bags checked in at the same instant, or why they had to belong to the same traveler.   Wonder if this airline has ever thought how it could improve service and relationships by having a passenger Ombudsman?  

Terms of Service | Cookies Policy | Privacy Policy

© 2019 Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers