Well, the principal features are that ombudsmen are there to resolve complaints. They are not in any sense regulators, and it's a mechanism which is typically used to resolve disputes between somebody small, ordinary people, as it were, and somebody big, either a large company or a large institution.
Their processes are designed to be informal, and to redress the balance of resources and experience available to the small citizen or consumer on the one hand and the large institution or the large business on the other.
They deploy a range of tools in order to deal with resolution of those disputes. So typically they will deal with inquiries, and indeed many things can be disposed of quickly and simply as inquiries, without turning into full complaints. But if they do turn into complaints, then maybe they can be resolved by mediation. If that fails, maybe a recommendation. But if all else fails, maybe by a formal decision.
The process is a process of active investigation. So there's no concern that one party may have better resources or better representation than another, because the ombudsman controls the process.