H Peacock presented the updated Complaints Policy, noting that this is part of the Customer Strategy that is now in implementation. The main changes to the policy are around response times and on levels of responsibility, it also recognises that more customer contact is required to help reduce the number of formal complaints that the council receives. The draft policy will be presented to all OSCs before being presented to Cabinet in November.
Cllr Adeleke asked how realistic it is to have 1 December 2022 as the launch date and how they intend to train staff in time.
H Peacock stated that they believe the launch date is realistic and that work has been undertaken throughout the policy development to ensure that it is ready for 1 December. All templates have been revised to ensure they are in line with the Customer Policy and training has taken place through the intranet for all staff members. There will also be individual training with team leaders and above. She added that the Customer Services unit will have a central complaints team.
Cllr Adeleke referred to item 3.1 in the report and the definition of a complaint. He noted his concern around the use of 'expression' as there could be dissatisfaction without being expressed.
H Peacock acknowledged the comment. She explained that they need to encourage people to vocalise their dissatisfaction to ensure that the matter can be investigated, and any unexpressed dissatisfaction will be picked up through customer satisfaction surveys.
Cllr Freedman commented on the escalation to a formal complaint, particularly regarding a resident's view of who they have complained to. Cllr Freedman noted that sometimes residents will complain to a member and that members may treat these conversations as informal so won't note it down.
H Peacock acknowledged the comment and noted that some conversations may escalate into a complaint, which is highlighted within the policy and the fact that some complaints may come in on behalf of residents. Once this dissatisfaction is expressed, members have one team that they can direct people to for complaints handling rather than seeking an outcome themselves.
Cllr Freedman stated that they need to ensure that when a formal complaint is made, they bring in all the conversations that led up to it as residents will feel they started the process a lot earlier even if it is not treated in this way.
H Peacock agreed, adding that it is beneficial to see the history of the conversation to help gain this context and understand the nature of the complaint. The Complaints Management System is also in place to add background notes relating to the complaint.
The Chairman suggested that the point when a complaint becomes a formal complaint be reviewed, noting that members may need to ask residents if they wish to make a formal complaint. The Chairman continued that if a complaint is made online then the 10 days starts at this point, and if a complaint is made by letter then the 10 days starts from the date of the original letter, meaning they are potentially disadvantaged by having a shorter time for investigation.
H Peacock said she would take the Chairman’s comments on board and feedback with any amendments if appropriate. Action.
Cllr Symington asked what quantum of complaints they receive.
H Peacock added that the KPI is noted under M Brookes' report and they are transitioning to the new central team, meaning that a new report will come from her team in future. The metrics are also being looked at to provide more detail on the number of complaints received and what issues they highlight. These reports will be brought back to members with further detail.
The report was noted.