Why Complaints are like Gold Dust! (Agenda Edition 13)
Subjects for Tenant Groups to discuss with their landlord
Some tenant groups have asked us for topical agenda items/subject briefings for their tenant group to discuss with their landlord. TPAS Cymru have created a briefing series that we call ‘The Agenda’ which provides tenant groups with an overview of a subject and suggestions of questions you might want to ask in your engagement with your landlord. This briefing will focus on tenants involvement in good complaints processes
Why complaints are important
The term ‘complaints’ or ‘to complain’ is often considered negative by providers of services. These complaints highlight key areas where products and services need improvement, so really it is simply great feedback to enable the adaptation of services to suit the service user. Don’t you agree?
At our TPAS Cymru annual conference last week, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales shared with us the importance of being complainant focused, highlighting that the complainant should always be at the centre of the complaints process. It was also emphasised that service providers need to be flexible when responding to complainants’ differing needs; basically, taking into account each person’s individual set of circumstances.
So, what does good practice look like?
According to the Ombudsman, good complaints processes are accessible to people from all parts of society; they are visible, and they are well publicised. Being accessible to all people means that any provision is made for different languages and levels of literacy.
Another important factor to good complaints processes is when the information from the complaint is used to improve services for everyone – not just the individual making the complaint. For instance, landlords could work with the complainant to understand their complaint and avoid defensive behaviour, whilst instead admitting when something has gone wrong and apologising appropriately. The Ombudsman emphasises that using complaints data to understand performance is key to improvement of services.
“The goal of good complaints processes is not to deliver fewer complaints. The goal is to maintain relationships, protect reputations, and improve services for all users”
What can you, as tenants ask your landlords?
If someone calls the call centre, are staff trained on giving directions on how to make a complaint
Is the complaints process accessible? Verbal, handwritten etc
Is there a complaints review panel?
Does the CEO look at complaints?
What provision is made for different languages and levels of literacy?
What sort of channels can people use to make a complaint?
Do staff know about the complaints policy, and their role in it?
We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the Agenda. We would love to hear about any conversations you’ve had with your landlord regarding this topic, so please email [email protected] with any feedback or further questions.