Customer Compliment Letter Response Template by kgk17398

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                                                                           Item 4

Committee:             Standards Committee
Meeting Date:          Monday 8 December 2008
Chairman:              Mrs M E Anderson (Independent Community Member)
Local Councillor/s:    All
Director:              Graham Dixon, Director of Resource Management
Assistant Director Eric Whitfield, Assistant Director, Scrutiny and Monitoring
or Head of Service:
Author:                Brian Boast, Scrutiny Officer, Telephone 01473 264374


1.   This report provides the Committee with information about the number of
     complaints and compliments recorded by the Council during the last year. It
     also provides an overview of the systems used to record information across
     the Council.

2.   The Committee is invited to :
     a) Note the contents of the report; and
     b) Consider and agree whether it requires any further information or action
        to be taken as a result of considering the information in this report.

3.   The Committee’s terms of reference include responsibility for taking an
     overview of the Comments, Compliments and Complaints process.

4.   The Committee may consider that further information and analysis is
     needed about complaints and compliments recorded in 2007/2008.


What is a Complaint?
5.   The corporate definition of a complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction
     with the standard of service, action, or lack of action, by the County Council
     or others working on its behalf.
6.   Information gathered through complaints and compliments gives the
     Council the opportunity to improve services and processes.

7.   Suffolk County Council makes six commitments to Suffolk residents that set
     out how the council will respond when a complaint is received. These are
     a)   A member of staff will write and acknowledge a complaint within five
          working days and explain who is dealing with it,
     b)   The Council will keep complainants up to date with what is happening
          and will try and get a full and clear reply within 20 working days of
          receipt of the complaint,
     c)   Complaints will be looked into thoroughly and fairly,
     d)   Complaints will be dealt with honestly, politely and in confidence,
     e)   There will be an apology if Suffolk County Council has made a
          mistake, and
     f)   The complainant will be told what Suffolk County Council is doing to
          put things right.
8.   Across the organisation Suffolk County Council has a three-stage method to
     escalate complaints. Some types of complaint, such as those about social
     care and education, are covered by special statutory procedures.
First Stage
9.   A complaint can be made in person at any Suffolk County Council or
     Customer Service Direct office or by telephone, email or letter. It is
     expected that the majority of complaints will be settled at this stage, either
     by putting things right or by providing an explanation. Complaints made
     about social care are covered by different procedures and are detailed in
     paragraph 23.
Second Stage
10. If the complainant is not satisfied with the Council’s response at the first
    stage, the complainant can ask for their complaint to be investigated by the
    Director of the service they are complaining about. The complainant will
    receive a written reply.
Third Stage
11. If the complainant is still unhappy, they can contact the following people:
     a)   The Chief Executive,
     b)   The Monitoring Officer (Assistant Director of Scrutiny and Monitoring);
12. A complainant can also ask their local County Councillor to take up their
    complaint on their behalf.
13. Following stage three if the complainant is still not satisfied with the
    Council’s response they are advised that they can contact the Local
    Government Ombudsman.
14. A copy of the Council’s leaflet ‘Have your Say’ is attached for Committee
    members. Members of the public are able to obtain a copy of the leaflet
    from most offices and also via the Council’s website using the following link.

Complaints Process
15. As explained above, all directorates have clear guidance about the
    response they should give to a complainant and how they should escalate a
    complaint if necessary.
16. It is widely accepted that good complaint handling is a key to:
     a)   Ensuring that actions and decisions taken by the Council and its
          officers are fair and just,
     b)   Learning about how service users experience services,
     c)   Identifying service improvements, and
     d)   Establishing greater trust and confidence in the council amongst local
17. For the complaints process to be effective in achieving these aims there is a
    need for a consistent process across the Council for investigating, recording
    and taking corrective action to prevent reoccurrence. Officers have been
    working with colleagues in Customer Service Direct (CSD) to develop a tool
    that will provide this consistent approach.
18. Customer Service Direct have developed gbiz through which Customer
    Service Direct Public Access Centres are able to record customer
    complaints and log them in a complaints database within the gbiz system.
    Gbiiz is a web-based tool used by customer service agents to handle a
    range of customer requests, from making payments and bookings to
    reporting problems. It is also used by the public who can visit Customer
    Service Direct’s website through the Internet to access transactional
    services. Complaint information recorded in gbiz is sent as an e-mail to the
    relevant directorate complaints officer for investigation and follow up with
    the customer.
19. As a result of a successful trial by the Environment & Transport
    Directorate’s use of gbiz system in 2006 to record all compliments and
    complaint records, the Council’s Corporate Management Team agreed that
    all other directorates would use gbiz to record complaints data from 1 April
    2007 as this will help to create consistency both in reporting and tracking of
    data. This expectation was endorsed by the Standards Committee and also
    by the Customer Services Scrutiny Committee. A separate secure system is
    to be implemented shortly to record complaints dealt with under statutory
    procedures for Adult and Community Services (ACS) and Children and
    Young People (CYP) directorates.
20. Following a review of the gbiz system, feed back indicated that gbiz had not
    been able to provide all the management information required by
    directorates. As a result, a number of enhancements to the gbiz system are
    being implemented. These amendments will provide the following benefits
     a) Changes to fields and the layout of the existing complaints and
        compliments records will enable users to more clearly record the area to
        which the compliment or complaint refer.
     b) Changes to the system will allow complaints and compliments to be
        reassigned once they have been input to the system.
     c) A new search and retrieve facility which will provide users with facility to
        display complaint responses coming up to deadline

     d) A facility to generate email reminders where the complaint is nearing the
        date by which a response should have been made.
     e) A new facility that will allow users to run reports on a monthly basis to
        allow information to be more easily retrieved and used to improve
        service rather than users having to request this information through the
        central helpdesk.
     f) Training for users on the new system
21. The County Council recognises the importance of the information derived
    from compliments and complaints as it helps not only with planning for the
    future but also for responding proactively.

Directorate information
22. Appendix 1 to this paper includes detailed information provided by
    directorates on compliments and complaints.
23. Appendix 2 is a copy of the report relating to Adult and Community Services
    social care complaints considered under the statutory complaints
    procedure. Appendix 3 is a copy of the report relating to Children and
    Young People social care complaints that have been considered under the
    statutory complaints procedure. Both reports have been prepared in a
    format which meets Department of Health and Department for Education
    and Science guidance.

Ethnicity and Disability
24. The following information has been supplied by the Social Inclusion and
    Diversity Manager.
25. At the last meeting the Committee requested an update on the diversity
    data captured for the 2007/2008 period following the revision to the ‘have
    your say’ leaflet.
26. Capturing the diversity of those who complain about Council services is
    important as it helps the organisation gauge whether specific groups have a
    limited amount of trust and confidence in the services we provide.
27. The changes to the leaflet include both an explanation for the public around
    why the County Council asks for information about them, as well as an
    additional box which allows the public to disclose whether or not they have
    a disability.
28. Members will recall that the revised leaflets include a statement outlining
    why the council is seeking this information. However, in practical terms, the
    collation of monitoring information in relation to diversity (namely ethnicity
    and disability) for 2007/2008 still remains patchy as reported to the
    Committee in July 2007. Accordingly, officers will be looking at a range of
    options for improving on the capture of this data.


CSD – Customer service Direct
GSO – Generic Social Outcomes
GLO – Generic Learning Outcomes
HWRC – Household Waste Recycling Centre
ICT – Information Communication Technology
SCC – Suffolk County Council



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