Council, April 2016.
Approved by: Head of Customer Services
Date approved: April 2016
The Council is committed to the delivery of quality services to meet the needs of its customers in line with our Customer Service Strategy. The Council welcomes feedback from customers as this provides opportunities for learning and improving services.
Customers are encouraged to inform the Council if they are dissatisfied with any aspect of our service. The Council will resolve complaints in a fair, timely and confidential manner in order to achieve positive outcomes for customers and staff.
A complaint is defined as follows –
“Any expression of dissatisfaction about the Council service or action of a staff member that cannot be resolved at the first point of contact”. Examples include:
Every effort will be made to resolve an issue as quickly as possible at the first point of contact.
If a customer’s request cannot be resolved at the first point of contact then this will be managed in accordance with section 4.0 – Escalation Stages and Response standards.
The Council encourages customers to seek the support of a family member or friends in submitting the complaint. Where someone is acting on behalf of the complainant, this must be notified at the start of the process, along with the contact details to be used for any communication.
If the assistance of an interpreter is required to facilitate the issue, the Council can arrange this.
Although it is intended that all issues will be dealt with under this process, there may be exceptions that arise as a result of other processes of review or statute. Possible examples:
The management of such complaints falls outside this policy, with each situation suitable managed given all the circumstances.
Customers may behave out of character in times of distress. There may be circumstances leading up to a complaint. The Council does not accept that forceful or determined behaviour is appropriate behaviour towards Council staff. The Council will not tolerate abusive behaviour towards staff, verbal or otherwise.
A complainant may be deemed to be unacceptable action if, for example:
Where staff handling a complaint consider that the complainant’s behaviour is unacceptable, they should advise the complainant of this fact and their reasons for that evaluation, and that the investigation process will be suspended. The investigation will recommence on receipt of an undertaking from the complainant that they will suitable modify their behaviour.
Should a complainant disagree with the suspension, they can escalate this through the standard stages of the feedback policy.
An ‘Investigating Officer’ may refuse to investigate a complaint if he/she considers that the complaint is frivolous, habitual or vexatious. If the Investigating Officer is considering refusing to investigate on these grounds, they must consult with the appropriate Unit Manager before making a decision. If the decision is that the complaint will not be investigated on any of these grounds, the ‘Investigating Officer’ must confirm this to the complainant in writing. If the complainant disagrees with this decision, they retain their right to escalate their complaint to the next stage of the procedure.
As indicated earlier, all complaints will be investigated and dealt with in confidence, consistent with the needs of the investigation. To enable the Council’s policy to be adequately reviewed and revised, monitoring of our compliance with the policy will be undertaken.
The information will be used to produce management information to monitor our performance, highlight areas of failure and feed into the process for identifying areas for service improvement. The information will be reported to a range of key stakeholders, including Elected Members and the Council’s Executive Team. This will be the responsibility of the Head of Customer Services.
The complaints policy will be publicised through the Council’s website. Leaflets outlining the complaints policy will also be displayed at all Council Customer Service Desks.
All staff are to be made aware of the complaints policy. The responsibility for ensuring awareness and knowledge of the process is with the Head of Customer Services.
The complaints policy is the responsibility of the General Manager of Customer and Community and will be subject to regular review.
A customer (or their representative) can make a complaint in person, by visiting a Customer Service desk during normal business hours, or by telephone, letter, email, or via our website. Please include your name and contact details to allow a response.
Acknowledgement correspondence will include a reference number, a brief summary of the issue, and the contact details of the person investigating. In the event that a full response can be made within two working days, an acknowledgement will not be sent.
Issues will be responded to as quickly as possible by the most appropriate method. Where a response or resolution is made by telephone, written records will be kept and written confirmation sent. This will cover:
Issues of a more complex nature may take longer than the specified time limits to investigate. If this is the case, the customer will be informed of the reasons why the time scales cannot be met and when they can expect to receive a full response.
If on completion of Stages One and Two (as outlined in 3.6), the complaint is not resolved to the customer’s satisfaction, they will be advised they have 28 working days from the date of the full response letter to provide details of why they consider their complaint unresolved. At this point the customer will pass to the next and final stage (Stage Three) involving the Chief Executive or their designate.
As per Appendix A, Process Map:
Escalation Stages and response times:
Generally, issues involving more than one unit will be managed by the first unit receiving the complaint. This unit will co-ordinate and agree a response on behalf of any other units concerned.
If any complaint is misdirected, the receiving unit will acknowledge the complaint, inform the customer which unit is responsible and pass the issue immediately to the correct group for action.
The Council is committed to ensure that complaints are dealt with fairly and impartially. If a complaint is received about a staff member, the appropriate Unit Manager will be responsible for the management and resolution of the issue.
Any complaint against the Chief Executive will be referred to the Mayor, who will determine the most appropriate means of investigation and resolution. The procedures and timescales for any such complaint may fall outside the normal standard, and, should this be the case, this would be formally advised to the complainant.
Elected Members must comply with the Councillors’ Code of Conduct. This Code describes the high standards of conduct required from Councillors in carrying out their duties. Complaints regarding the conduct of a Councillor should be referred to the Mayor, who will manage such complaints in conjunction with the Chief Executive, in accordance with the procedures prescribed in the Code of Conduct.
Complaints made anonymously will be given consideration and dealt with as appropriate depending on the information given. This includes any issues that may be laid anonymously under the whistle-blower legislation.
For all stages of the procedure, the responsible member of staff within a service area, business unit or group, will be responsible for the compliance with the policy and for maintaining adequate records for recording and reporting the following information:
Further redress information provided and any action taken.