Complaints: Are We Getting it Right?

Apr 2, 2024

When a complaint is received, the first reaction is usually emotive, and often complaints are taken personally.  However, if your process is clear, the emotion can be decreased and the learnings from managing them can be very useful.

A client recently commented; “We have learned so much by following our process, reviewing the complaint, and making changes that will benefit future clients – it turned into a really beneficial exercise.

Remember most people are not serial complainers, something has happened to prompt this action. 

  1. How did we set and manage their expectation?
  2. How did we communicate this? A “How to Complain” leaflet can help,
  3. In this leaflet, state your process and timeframes so that this is known from the outset. Ensure it is clear and transparent.
  4. Ensure you work to the timeframes, and communicate if these change (annual leave, use your out-of-office email etc.)
  5. Keep records of the investigation which are timed and dated.
  6. If the decision is not acceptable, the feedback needs to include information regarding escalation e.g. Regulator details/Professional body details/Ombudsman
  7. Complete a reflective practice sheet and if you are in a team share the learnings and amends made to any processes. Add this sheet to your portfolio.
  8. Share the experience with a peer, it’s good to debrief and can provide more learning.
  9. Walk your client journey again, is there anything else you sill need to change, and is their expectation now managed in the information you provide?
  10. Log the complaint on a tracker so that trends can be spotted and acted upon – if another one happens – hopefully not.

Your complaint management system is intended to:

  • enable a response to issues raised in a timely and cost-effective way.
  • boost a user’s confidence in the administrative process, and
  • provide information that can be used to deliver quality improvements in the services, staff, and complaint handling.

In simple steps, good complaint handling means:

  • Setting and managing expectations.
  • Being customer-focused.
  • Being open and accountable when things go wrong. (Duty of Candour).
  • Acting fairly and proportionately.
  • Putting things right.
  • Seeking continuous improvement.

References and additional resources: –

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