Advertising your complaints procedure
Once you have a complaints procedure in place you shouldn't find it too difficult to promote it, but on this page are a few things to consider.
Generally people don't like to complain. A formal complaint will usually only be made when people haven't been able to find a solution to concerns they may have, or don’t feel able to comment in any other way. When you promote your complaints procedure you should also promote opportunities for people to raise more informal forms of feedback and compliments.
What to include
When promoting your complaints procedure there are a few things to include:
- Options of how to complain (for example speaking to a member of staff, telephone, email, webpage form etc)
- Contact details
- What people can complain about (some complaints may need to be referred directly to the commissioner or via another route such as safeguarding, police etc)
- Who may make a complaint
- What people can expect after they've made a complaint (including timescales)
- Where to obtain a copy of the procedure
A complaints procedure should be written in a way that makes it easy to read, but it is a formal document so you may find it helpful to also produce a webpage and/or leaflet setting out how to make a complaint. You may also wish to use posters and display screens depending on the nature of the services you provide and how people access them. Consider mentioning how to provide feedback within service materials/literature and reporting back within your organisation’s annual report. You could include what you've learnt from complaints and other forms of feedback, alongside examples of compliments.
You should promote your complaints procedure and opportunities to provide feedback in accessible places. All organisations should promote their complaints procedure on their website. Other locations may include waiting rooms, reception areas and well visited public spaces.
Who should promote the procedure?
All members of staff and volunteers (including board members/trustees etc) should be aware of the organisation’s complaints procedure. If concerns are raised staff need to know how to respond. All new members of staff should be made aware of your procedure and expectations, and staff reminded at regular intervals. Staff members should feel confident in directing people to the complaints procedure, and explaining how a complaint can be made.
Who can complain?
This may differ for different service types, but it's generally good practice to ensure that in addition to the people using your services other people should be able to complain on behalf of a customer. For example if you support children, their parents/carers, a trusted adult or advocate should be able to complain on their behalf. If you support older people they may wish a carer, family member or advocate to take forward a complaint on their behalf. You may decide that anyone can complain or, if your service involves more sensitive information, you may wish to adopt a process of seeking consent from the complainant before allowing someone else to take forward the complaint.
Your complaints procedure should be clearly advertised at all times. You may wish to remind people of the opportunity to complain and provide customer feedback every now and again, but the information should be permanently available in an accessible place.