The purpose of the Complaints and feedback management policy is to ensure we manage complaints and feedback in a fair, consistent, professional and timely manner.
This policy has been developed to comply with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) Circular 039: Complaints management in the South Australian public sector (the DPC circular) and is informed by the ISO standard: Guidelines for complaints handling.
Positive feedback is always greatly appreciated and can be directed to an individual staff member and their manager.
Complaints and feedback managed in line with this policy are those where an external stakeholder expresses dissatisfaction or expresses concern about the service or action by ESB staff.
Where the complaint relates to a matter that is out of scope of this policy, the stakeholder will be advised and assisted to redirect their complaint as appropriate.
As detailed in the ISO standard: Guidelines for complaints handling, the following principles are the foundation for effective and efficient handling of complaints:
- Commitment: The organisation should be actively committed to defining and implementing a complaints-handling process.
- Transparency: The complaints-handling process should be clearly communicated and publicly available. Individual complainants should be provided with adequate information about the handling of their complaint.
- Accessibility: A complaints-handling process should be easily accessible to all complainants.
- Responsiveness: The organisation should address the needs and expectations of customers with respect to complaints handling.
- Objectivity: Each complaint should be addressed in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner through the complaints-handling process.
- Confidentiality: Personally identifiable information concerning the complainant should be available where needed, but only for the purposes of addressing the complaint within the organisation and should be actively protected from disclosure, unless the customer or complainant expressly consents to its disclosure or disclosure is required by law. Feedback and complaint information is handled in accordance with the Information privacy principles instruction.
- Customer-focused approach: The organisation should adopt a customer-focused approach with respect to handling complaints and should be open to feedback.
- Accountability: The organisation should establish and maintain accountability for, and reporting on, the decisions and actions with respect to complaints handling.
- Improvement: Increased effectiveness and efficiency of the complaints-handling process should be a permanent objective of the organisation.
We will maintain an effective and responsive customer feedback and complaint management system (CMS) to support consistent and effective management of feedback and complaints.
We value both positive and negative feedback. All complaints will be taken seriously, and we will make every effort to ensure they are handled in a fair and transparent manner. When complaints are received, they will be assessed, prioritised, documented and recorded.
We will maintain good communication throughout the process, including prompt acknowledgement, information about expected timeframes, outcomes and avenues of review.
How to make a complaint
We apply a three-level model for complaint handling:
- Level 1: Early resolution by manager
- Level 2: Escalation to Chief Executive, if required
- Level 3: Referral to external agency, e.g. Ombudsman SA, if needed.
Stakeholders can refer to our website for a step-by-step process. ESB staff will refer to internal procedures.
Supporting all people with a complaint
We will show consideration to issues experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people who have historically been marginalised or excluded (including those subject to socio-economic disadvantage), who may need support to make a complaint. We will ensure our processes are flexible and sensitive and stakeholders’ rights to make complaints are supported.
Managing unreasonable conduct
All stakeholders will be treated with fairness and respect. However, complaints must be lodged respectfully. Behaviour that is aggressive, violent, disrespectful or abusive will not be tolerated.
Staff safety and wellbeing is paramount when dealing with unreasonable behaviour under our workplace health and safety and duty of care obligations. There is a need to balance the right for someone to make a complaint with staff rights to safety and respect.
We will acknowledge receipt of complaints or negative feedback within three working days using the stakeholder's preferred communication method.
We aim to resolve an escalated complaint within 21 working days. If a complaint cannot be resolved within 21 working days, we will communicate with the stakeholder to advise when an outcome is expected.
We will address each complaint in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner. We may:
- give the complainant information or an explanation
- gather information from the person or area relating to the complaint
- investigate the claims made in the complaint.
Providing reasons for decisions
We will contact the complainant about:
- the outcome of the complaint and the action taken
- the reasons for our decision
- the remedy or resolutions we have proposed or put in place
- any options for review available to the stakeholder.
Closing the complaint
We will retain records detailing:
- how we managed the complaint
- the outcome of the complaint
- any recommendations or decisions made
- any outstanding actions that need to be implemented.
At the end of the investigation, we will review the cause of the complaint to assist with identifying trends and opportunities for improvement. We will ensure that, where appropriate or necessary, complaint outcomes are implemented and monitored.
We will inform stakeholders who make complaints, should they be dissatisfied with the outcome, about the review options available to them, including to Ombudsman SA.
Reporting and review
In accordance with the DPC circular, we will assess and monitor the quality and effectiveness of our CMS on an annual basis. Information collected will be used to assist in identifying trends, measuring customer service quality and making service improvements. This information will also be used to meet our annual reporting requirements in accordance with accordance with DPC Circular PC 013: Annual reporting requirements. Only de-identified data will be used for public reporting to protect the privacy of individuals.
Roles and responsibilities
- Be accountable for the effective implementation of this policy.
- Promote a culture that values complaints and their effective resolution.
- Ensure employees involved in a complaint are supported and have access to wellbeing provisions.
- Be responsible for ensuring this policy and relevant procedures are visible, accessible, and promoted throughout the organisation.
- Ensure stakeholders can access this policy and the complaints process easily and in a way that meets their needs.
- Ensure the establishment, maintenance and promotion of an effective complaints management process.
- Support the use of complaints data to inform service improvements, leading to better customer service.
- Resolve complaints in the first instance wherever possible.
- Ensure the CMS policy and procedures are visible, accessible and promoted throughout the agency and to stakeholders.
- Ensure complaint and feedback data is collected, analysed and used to improve our services.
- Support staff to manage complaints appropriately.
- Ensure they are familiar with this policy and act accordingly.
- Understand and comply with our complaint management system.
- Help people who wish to make complaints and document in line with the relevant procedure.
- Ensure any complaints raised with them are referred to their manager.
- Complaint: An expression of dissatisfaction about our service (including our staff and contractors) where a response or resolution is expected or legally required.
- Complaint management system (CMS): Policies, procedures, organisational culture, our employees, and the hardware and software needed to manage complaints and feedback in a timely and effective way.
- Feedback: An opinion, expression of interest or concern, positive or negative comment about our service (including our staff and contractors) where a response is not expected or legally required.
- ISO standard: guidelines for complaints handling: ISO 10002:2018: Quality management: customer satisfaction: guidelines for complaints handling in organisations
Procedure: Instructions on how and who needs to implement a policy
Stakeholder: The person or people who receive or use our services (individuals or organisations)
- DPC circular 039: Complaints management in the South Australian public sector
- ISO 10002:2018: Quality management: Customer satisfaction: guidelines for complaints handling in organisations
- 'Complaint about a school'
- 'Complaint about early childhood service'
- 'Public interest disclosure'
- DPC circular PC 013: Annual reporting requirements
- DPC Circular PC 012: Information privacy principles (IPPS) instruction