Principles of Good Complaint Handling

Seeking continuous improvement

Good complaint handling is not limited to providing an individual remedy to the complainant: public bodies should ensure that all feedback and lessons learnt from complaints contribute to service improvement.

Learning from complaints is a powerful way of helping to improve public service, enhancing the reputation of a public body and increasing trust among the people who use its service. Public bodies should have systems to record, analyse and report on the learning from complaints. Public bodies should feed that learning back into the system to improve their performance.

It is good practice for public bodies to report publicly on their complaint handling performance. This should include reporting on the number of complaints received and the outcome of those complaints. Where complaints have led to a change in services, policies or procedures, public bodies could report those changes. Reporting on complaint handling performance can help to:

  • motivate staff
  • promote achievement
  • drive improvement in service delivery
  • boost public confidence in the complaint process
  • encourage potential complainants to access the scheme properly
  • enable public bodies to identify patterns in complaints.

Public bodies should ensure they:

  • tell the complainant when lessons have been learnt as a result of their complaint
  • state any changes they have made to prevent the problem recurring.