Guide to Complaints Handling

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EFFICIENCY UNIT VISION & MISSION

Vision Statement

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Mission Statement

To provide strategic and implementable solutions to all our clients as they seek to deliver people-based government services. We do this by combining our extensive understanding of policies, our specialised knowledge and our broad contacts and linkages throughout the Government and the private sector. In doing this, we join our clients in contributing to the advancement of the community while also providing a fulfilling career for all members of our team.

A Guide to Complaints Handling and Public Enquiries

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FOREWORD

Handling complaints well is a mark of good government. Doing so depends not just on well trained frontline staff but on the commitment, understanding and attention of the heads of bureaux and departments and all levels in between. Good complaints handling does not mean acceding to every request, but it does demand listening, understanding, explaining and helping wherever possible. We must address all complaints in a fair and professional manner, and communicate the outcomes honestly and expeditiously. This guide is a first attempt to provide comprehensive advice to all departments about complaints and public enquiries handling. I trust that it will evolve as experience is shared between staff and as we learn from the public that we serve. It is unrealistic to think we can avoid complaints. Rather, we should welcome complaints, rectify what can be rectified, and learn how to explain our policies, objectives and services better.

Henry Tang Chief Secretary for Administration

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A Guide to Complaints Handling and Public Enquiries

CONTENTS
4 KEY POINTS 5 INTRODUCTION 8 CHAPTER 1: AN EFFECTIVE COMPLAINTS HANDLING SYSTEM 1a) Guiding principles 1b) Essential features of a good complaints handling system 1c) Building an effective complaints handling system

15 CHAPTER 2: HANDLING THE INITIAL CONTACT

GOLDEN RULES FOR HANDLING THE INITIAL CONTACT 2a) Dealing with the initial contact 2b) Helping the complainant understand the process 2c) Recording the complaint 2d) Electronic recording of complaints 2e) Dealing with difficult complainants GOLDEN RULES FOR INVESTIGATING A COMPLAINT 3a) Identifying the complaints handling party 3b) Handling misdirected complaints 3c) Planning and implementing an investigation 3d) Dealing with cross-departmental complaints 3e) Escalating complaints 3f) Involvement by The Ombudsman GOLDEN RULES FOR PROVIDING A GOOD QUALITY RESPONSE 4a) Demonstrating understanding of the reason for complaint 4b) Demonstrating the complaint has been thoroughly investigated 4c) Explaining the outcome of the investigation 4d) Replies to emails GOLDEN RULES FOR HANDLING REPEATED COMPLAINTS 5a) Identifying the causes of repeated complaints 5b) Giving complainants the opportunity to ask for a review/appeal 5c) Dealing with persistent complaints GOLDEN RULES FOR LEARNING FROM COMPLAINTS 6a) Recording complaints data 6b) Analysing complaints data 6c) Briefing senior management fully and regularly on complaints received 6d) Considering the need for service delivery/policy changes 6e) Documenting and communicating lessons learnt 6f) Obtaining feedback from complainants on complaints handling 6g) Monitoring and controlling the complaints handling process 6h) Avoiding “unnecessary” complaints 7a) 7b) 7c) 7d) 7e) Objectives Handling the initial contact well Adopting integrated, multiple channels Be alert to value for money Minimising “unnecessary” enquiries

24 CHAPTER 3: INVESTIGATING A COMPLAINT

29 CHAPTER 4: PROVIDING A GOOD QUALITY RESPONSE

32 CHAPTER 5: HANDLING REPEATED COMPLAINTS

36 CHAPTER 6: LEARNING FROM COMPLAINTS

43 CHAPTER 7: HANDLING PUBLIC ENQUIRIES

47 ANNEX – TEMPLATE TO PUBLICISE COMPLAINTS HANDLING MECHANISMS A Guide...
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