Complaint handling process

Use this step-by-step complaint handling procedure to help manage a customer complaint. You can also download flowchart of the complaint handling process.

1. Complaint is received

Complaints may be received in various ways, including online, by phone, email, social media or in person.

2. Record the complaint

Record details of the complaint according to your agency’s policies and procedures. For example:

  • contact details of the person making the complaint
  • verbal and written correspondence
  • details of the issue and how the complainant wants it to be resolved
  • any support the complainant may need.

If the complaint is resolved at first contact, record details about the resolution – such as referrals or information provided.

3. Acknowledge the complaint

Let the complainant know that you've received their complaint as soon as possible and within your agency's specified timeframe.

Consider the most appropriate communication channel – for example, by phone or email.

Include a contact point for the complainant, key timeframes and the likely next steps. This helps to manage what the agency expects of the complainant and what the complainant can expect of the agency.

4. Assess the complaint

Assess the complaint to decide what action to take next.

An initial assessment may consider:

  • your agency's jurisdiction
  • involvement of other organisations
  • feasibility of the complainant's suggestion
  • severity, urgency and complexity
  • health and safety implications
  • impact on the individual, the general public and the agency
  • potential to escalate

If there's more than one issue raised in the complaint – check if each issue needs to be handled separately.

5. Decide what action to take

After assessing a complaint, you will need to decide what action to take next:

1. If you need more information or the complaint is very serious, you may need to investigate the complaint.

2. If you don't need to investigate the complaint, advise the complainant of the outcome. Explain reasons for the decision, remedies and options for review.

Keep records about how the complaint was managed, the outcome, recommendations and any actions that need to be followed up.