Shropshire Council

Developing complaints templates

Preparing templates for use in responding to complaints can be really helpful. Templates can remind those responding to complaints of the need to include particular information. Templates are also flexible enough to be amended. Key points to consider in the development of letter templates are listed below.

Acknowledgement

An acknowledgement letter or email should include:

  • A summary of the complaint and the key points that will be investigated
  • An offer to add to the complaint and provide additional information
  • The way in which the complaint is to be handled (in line with the organisation's complaints procedure)
  • The timescale that will be applied (such as the date the complainant can expect a response by)
  • The name and role of the person who will investigate the complaint
  • Contact details

Holding note

Some complaints may be more complex and investigations may be delayed for a variety of reasons. It's a good idea to have a holding letter/email prepared. Within the holding letter or email you should include:

  • An apology that you won't make the timescale set for the response (and an explanation if appropriate)
  • Reassurance that the complaint is being investigated and a response will be provided
  • A new response date
  • Contact details in case the complainant needs to get in touch

Response

Your complaint response should include:

  • Steps taken to investigate (how much information you share will need to be carefully considered. It's often not appropriate to go into too much detail. You may just mention the methods used such as reviewing correspondence, holding interviews etc)
  • A response to each of the points within the complaint (reflecting the contents of the acknowledgement)
  • An apology, if mistakes have been made. This should be clearly worded and sincere
  • The outcome/decision (some elements of the complaint may be upheld and others not upheld so the outcome would be partly upheld)
  • Any actions and learning from the complaint
  • Signposting to the next stage of the complaints process (this may be a commissioner or the LGO)

The Local Government Ombudsman has detailed information and templates available for social care providers.