Whole-of-government complaint handling improvement program

27 Oct 2016

We have partnered with the Customer Service Commissioner and the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation to develop a whole-of-government complaint handling improvement program (CHIP) as part of Premier’s Priority 12 to improve government services.

In 2015 the Customer Service Commission conducted a survey around whole-of-government customer satisfaction. The results highlighted the importance of improving the complaint handling experience for customers across government. The survey showed that customers who had their complaint handled well gave a higher than average satisfaction rating. However, less than half of those surveyed thought their complaint was handled well and half thought it was too difficult to make a complaint.

A follow up survey of customer’s experiences highlighted a number of key areas for improvement. Customers indicated they preferred:

  • a dedicated person or team to manage their complaint and someone they could easily contact
  • relevant information about the complaint process and what they can expect from it before they lodge a complaint
  • to be updated on the status of their complaint more regularly
  • for their complaint to be handled within a reasonable timeframe
  • to know how long the process would take when their complaint was acknowledged.

We conducted our own survey of agencies complaint handling systems that revealed additional areas for improvement, such as the need to empower frontline staff to resolve routine complaints without escalation, improve accessibility and learn from the complaints data.

Based on the information obtained from the surveys as well as our longstanding experience in complaint handling, a two-staged program was developed and endorsed by the Secretaries of all 10 principal departments in July this year.

Stage one involves cluster agencies adopting and implementing six “Commitments to Effective Complaint-Handling” through their policies, procedures and practices. The six commitments are centred on respectful treatment, information and accessibility, good communication, taking ownership, timeliness, and transparency.

Stage two of the program involves the development of a “no wrong door” whole-of-government complaint system that would provide customers a central point (in addition to, and ideally linking with, existing agency systems) to lodge, track and manage their complaints.

The program team consists of representatives from the three partner agencies and is currently working with the clusters to implement the commitments. A business case is currently being developed for stage two of the program.

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