Good complaint handling

A report in the Register claims that the  Dept of Work and Pensions isn’t working but the noticeable point is the good practice that the DWP is referred to by the Ombudsman, which is the ‘Principles of Good Complaint Handling’ on the Ombudsmans own site.

Among the points in the principles are:

• Including complaint management as an integral part of service design.

• Focusing on the outcomes for the complainant and the public body.

• Dealing with complainants promptly and sensitively, bearing in mind their individual circumstances.

• Listening to complainants to understand the complaint and the outcome they are seeking.

• Responding flexibly, including co-ordinating responses with any other bodies involved in the same complaint, where appropriate.

• Publishing service standards for handling complaints.

• Providing honest, evidence-based explanations and giving reasons for decisions.

• Keeping full and accurate records.

• Ensuring that decisions are proportionate, appropriate and fair.

• Acting fairly towards staff complained about as well as towards complainants.

• Acknowledging mistakes and apologising where appropriate.

• Providing prompt, appropriate and proportionate remedies.

• Using all feedback and the lessons learnt from complaints to improve service design and delivery.

• Having systems in place to record, analyse and report on the learning from complaints.

• Regularly reviewing the lessons to be learnt from complaints.

• Where appropriate, telling the complainant about the lessons learnt and changes made to services, guidance or policy.

These Principles are not a checklist to be applied mechanically. Public bodies should use their judgment in applying them to produce reasonable, fair and proportionate results in all the circumstances of the case. The Ombudsman will adopt a similar approach when considering the standard of complaint handling by public bodies in her jurisdiction.

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