Poor complaint handling
Everyone has a right to expect a good service from public bodies and to have things put right if they go wrong. When things do go wrong, as they inevitably will from time to time, public bodies should manage complaints so that customers’ concerns are dealt with appropriately and promptly. A sincere apology, along with action to put the matter right, is often enough, if it is done quickly.
A complaint that is not resolved promptly and effectively has a habit of growing into something bigger and more difficult to sort out, wasting money, time and effort on the way. As well as the impact on the individual, it is likely to have a wider impact, as individuals relate their bad experiences to others, and as time and money is diverted away from the body’s core business and into putting things right.
Good complaint handling matters because it is an important way of ensuring customers do receive the service they are entitled to expect; it is often an opportunity to recover a bad situation before it gets worse, and it also provides a valuable – and free – source of feedback about how the public body is performing and what needs to be improved. Used wisely it can be a helpful spur to continuous improvement.
The final three cases illustrate how not to handle complaints.
‘It is a huge relief that you have listened to me and taken the time to go through my papers and find that I did have cause for complaint … Thank you very much for this and your time in doing so.’