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Valuing Complaints Principles of Good Complaint Management


Share best practice in complaint handling across the public sector not just in ... public bodies about the standards of complaint handling the SPSO expects ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Valuing Complaints Principles of Good Complaint Management

Valuing Complaints Principles of Good Complaint
  • QAA Conference
  • 18 September 2007
  • Sarah E.M Bogunovic,
  • Outreach Officer

  • Background the SPSO
  • Further / higher education remit
  • Valuing Complaints initiative
  • Learning from complaints
  • Questions

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002
  • One Stop Shop
  • bringing together
  • Local Government Ombudsman for Scotland
  • Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsmen for
  • Housing Association Ombudsman for Scotland
  • new areas (mental health, Enterprise bodies)
  • 3 October 2005 - Further and Higher Education
    (Scotland) Act 2005 extended SPSO remit to
    include FE / HE institutions

The bodies under our jurisdiction
  • Further and Higher Education Institutions
  • Local Authorities
  • National Health Service
  • Parliamentary Corporation
  • Scottish Government departments, agencies,
  • Scottish Public and Cross-Border Authorities
  • Registered Social Landlords

SPSO Main Functions
  • Handle unresolved complaints
  • - when a member of the public claims to have
    suffered injustice or hardship as a result of
    maladministration or service failure
  • Increase public awareness of the role of the SPSO
  • Promote good administrative practice
  • - good complaint handling
  • Contribute to improvement in the delivery of
    public services

We cannot normally investigate complaints
  • that have not been through the bodys own process
  • if it is more than 12 months since the aggrieved
    person found out about the matter
  • when there is a right of appeal through e.g.
    tribunals or the courts

Complaints from (not just!) Students
  • Can look at-
  • Student Contract
  • Admissions
  • Welfare
  • Supervision
  • Discipline
  • Human rights/Discrimination
  • Support for students with particular needs
  • Academic judgement appeals process
  • Cant look at-
  • academic judgement
  • personnel matters
  • contracts and other commercial transactions
  • the Open University in Scotland
  • the merits of a discretionary decision taken
    without maladministration

Example - Higher Education Complaints 2006/07
(received by subject)
Valuing Complaints Why?
  • Experience across public sector in Scotland -
    issues with general complaint handling (attitude
    and approach as well as processes)
  • Give support and guidance to public bodies
  • Share best practice in complaint handling across
    the public sector not just in Scotland!
  • High number of premature complaints to SPSO
  • Use complaints to drive improvement in the
    delivery of public services
  • To be clearer with public bodies about the
    standards of complaint handling the SPSO expects

What do people want when things go wrong?
  • 34 want an apology or explanation
  • 23 want an enquiry into the causes
  • 16 want support in coping with the consequences
  • 11 want financial compensation
  • (Data from MORI Survey commissioned by the
    Department of Health in
  • England, 2001)

Why do complaints escalate?
  • Poor communication
  • Over complicated complaints processes
  • Poor customer / service user focus
  • Lack of empowerment of front-line staff
  • Defensive attitudes

Attitude to complaints version 1
Attitude to complaints version 2
  • Complaints are jewels to be treasured

  • Establish right systems and processes
  • and…..
  • right attitudes, behaviour, approach and
    culture (equally important)

Valuing Complaints
  • A complaint is the expression of
    dissatisfaction with an organisations
    procedures, charges, employees, agents or quality
    of service. Complaints should be valued. Having
    an effective process for managing complaints not
    only benefits the complainant, it can have real
    benefits for the organisation..
  • Professor Alice Brown, Scottish Public
    Services Ombudsman

Valuing Complaints
Unique website
What is Good Complaint Management?
  • An organised and effective way of receiving,
    responding to, remedying, recording and using
    complaints to improve administrative actions and
    service provision.
  • A public service organisation needs good
    complaint management in order to
  • Effectively deal with and resolve an individual
    complaint and
  • Use the learning from the complaint to make

An Effective Complaint System Will...
  • Create a second chance to provide service and
    satisfaction to dissatisfied customers / service
  • Identify areas that need improvement (through
    proper recording and reporting measures,
    identifying underlying causes, trends etc)
  • Provide opportunities to strengthen public
    support for an organisation and,
  • Assist in the planning and allocation of
  • A complaint handling system can also act as an
    extra satisfaction measurement tool it gives
    free market research

Valuing Complaints - Process Design
  • Informal Resolution
  • Trained and empowered front line staff
  • Empathy / freedom to apologise
  • Formal Internal Investigation
  • Trained and empowered investigative staff
  • An impartial and transparent process
  • Flexible / proportionate
  • Clear lines of accountability and authority
  • Appeal
  • Transparent and independent review
  • Referral to SPSO or other independent adjudicator
  • Statutory duty to inform complainant
  • Clear and published entitlement

Key Points in Stages 1 to 3
  • The body to resolve and provide redress
  • Complaint recorded and used to drive improvement

Process Characteristics Attitude as well as
Learning from Complaints
  • Monitor and analyse complaints
  • Include locally resolved complaints complaints
    that escalate through the system and complaints
    going to the Ombudsman
  • Report trends to senior management (standing
    agenda items for Board meetings)
  • Share learning with staff across departments
  • Identify common themes / issues
  • Use feedback from complaints to improve services
  • Demonstrate publicly how complaints have helped
    to improve policy, procedures and services

End quote
  • When complaints are freely heard, deeply
    considered and speedily reformed, then is the
    utmost bound of civil liberty attained that wise
    men (sic) look for
  • John Milton Areopagitica, 1644

  • Discussion and Questions

  • 4 Melville Street
  • EH3 7NS
  • Phone 0800 377 7330
  • Email
  • Website http//