Managing a Direct Complaint

Every complaint is different. There are no hard and fast rules to follow. The following principles will help in most situations.

Delays in dealing with complaints can add to tension and generate further resentment. If you can’t respond quickly, let the consumer know as soon as possible. Provide all relevant documents when requested. Aim to make progress towards resolving the complaint within 30 days of receipt.

Ask questions and make sure you are on the right track. Check about the need for interpreter services and ask if the consumer would like a friend or relative to support them. Give due consideration to points of view put forward by the complainant. Ask the complainant what they want to achieve or what they want as an outcome.

Make sure you have all the necessary records, reports and other relevant information.

Keep the consumers service records separate from the complaint. This protects everyone’s privacy and minimises difficulties where other practitioners provide services to the consumer.

A complaint should be treated confidentially. Minimise the number of staff who are aware of, or involved in handling, the complaint to protect both your own and the consumers privacy.

It is preferable to meet on neutral territory where everyone feels comfortable. Also, try to ensure interruptions or disruptions are minimised.

Make sure that you set realistic time frames about promises, offers or agreed actions – and then keep them. If unexpected events arise which make it difficult to keep previous arrangements, personally notify the consumer as soon as possible. Consider if complaints expose inadequacy in policy or procedure that need to be fixed promptly to avoid repeat complaints.

There may be times when it is unrealistic or not appropriate for you to deal with a complaint personally. Complaints involving extremely distressed or aggressive people, complex situations involving multiple service providers or allegations of assault or sexual misconduct, are all situations where seeking advice is recommended. Advice can be obtained from a respected colleague, your employer, a professional association, an indemnity/insurance body or from the HCSCC.

  • The value of complaints lies in your response to their causes.
  • It is perfectly natural to experience some initial defensiveness when a complaint is received.
  • Take the time to consider the complaint and compose yourself before dealing with the consumer.
  • Complainants may still choose to speak with the HCSCC.
  • A well-managed complaint could avoid further escalation and also provide valuable feedback about your organisation.
  • Inform a complainant about how and when you intend to respond.