International best practice approaches to complaints handling
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International best practice approaches to complaints handling. Dr. Richard Boyle Senior Research Officer Institute of Public Administration Dublin Presentation at HKEU seminar 11 th December 2008. Introduction. Complaints handling often misunderstood and under appreciated

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International best practice approaches to complaints handling l.jpg

International best practice approaches to complaints handling

Dr. Richard Boyle

Senior Research Officer

Institute of Public Administration

Dublin

Presentation at HKEU seminar 11th December 2008


Introduction l.jpg
Introduction handling

  • Complaints handling often misunderstood and under appreciated

  • Primary focus of the presentation is on internal complaints handling


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What is a complaint? handling

  • Any expression of dissatisfaction that needs a response

  • Where a decision or action is taken relating to the provision of a service which, it is claimed, is not in accordance with the rules, practice or policy of the organisation or the generally accepted principles of equity and good administrative practice and which adversely affects the person concerned


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Why is good complaints handling important? handling

  • Complaints provide a window on systemic problems

  • Complaints can stimulate improvement

  • Good complaints handling can defuse a crisis

  • The price of failure is high

    McMillan, 2007


Ways in which people can lodge a complaint l.jpg
Ways in which people can lodge a complaint handling

  • Telephone

  • In person

  • Customer comment card

  • Mail

  • Email

  • Link from the website

  • Blogs and chatrooms


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Encouraging complaints handling

People often don’t know how to complain. They need to be encouraged:

  • developing specific information and resources: fact-sheets, posters, translated information,brochures

  • regular publications: newsletter, email alerts

  • website as a recognised source of information and useful links

  • flexible distribution strategies: email, face-to-face, mail-outs, libraries, government and community agencies

  • promotional ‘goodies’: fridge magnets, pens


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People may fear complaining or lack confidence in the system handling

  • Fear of discrimination or harassment

    • Inform clients that they will not be discriminated against as a result of making a complaint

    • Establish internal follow-up procedures to address the risk of discrimination against clients who lodge a complaint

  • Staff may also have concerns


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First steps in establishing a complaints handling system handling

  • Identify good practice complaints handling principles

  • Conduct a risk assessment:

    • Level of consequence versus likelihood of recurrence


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Dealing with cross-cutting and complex complaints handling

  • Respective roles and responsibilities in administering legislation, making policy and handling complaints should be clearly spelt out and visible to the public

  • A standardised complaints handling system

  • An overseeing body/function?

  • Specialist staff for complex, high profile complaints


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Dealing with difficult complainants handling

  • Challenges of dealing with habitual or vexatious complainants

  • Good guidance, backed up by skills development, is crucial


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The impact of information and communications technologies handling

  • Using websites for complaints handling

  • Complaints tracking

  • Blogs and Web 2.0

  • Not forgetting the computer illiterate and those without access


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Quality assuring complaints handling handling

  • Need for quality control measures in the handling of complaints

  • Tracking a sample of complaints from initiation to closure


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Creating a supportive climate handling

  • Role of senior management

  • Relationship between the complaints manager and chief executive

  • Integrating complaints handling with human resource practices such as performance appraisal and training and development


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The complaints ladder handling

  • First stage: The intake officer screens the complaint and registers it if it is appropriate. Then front-line staff attempt to resolve it.

  • Second stage: When clients are still dissatisfied, a more senior official or a complaints officer investigates their complaints and reports the results to them.

  • Third stage: Consider using mutually acceptable, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation. If this is not possible, a third party could arbitrate the matter.


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Ensuring lesson learning handling

  • Promoting system-wide lesson learning in good practice

  • Variety of players – central agencies, Ombudsman and Audit offices


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Conclusion handling

  • We must expect dissatisfied customers. We have choices about how the public can express that dissatisfaction

  • To the greatest possible extent, complaints should be handled at a local level

  • Handling complaints effectively is not just about value for money. It is about establishing a responsive relationship between the apparatus of the state and the people who use this apparatus (House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee)


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