3.13 COMPLAINTS MANAGEMENT Every organisation that deals with the public will inevitably receive some complaints. Local governments are required under the Local Government Act 2009 to have Complaints Management Systems (CMS) in place and be accountable for their decisions and actions. Complaints management is about respectfully and effectively addressing any individual’s specific complaints about council services and also identifying broader opportunities to make systemic improvements. It is entirely reasonable for residents and ratepayers to expect council to be customer- focused and responsive to complaints. BEFORE ADMINISTRATION Prior to interim administration, your council did not provide an easy avenue for complaints to be lodged. Information on how to lodge a complaint was “buried” in the council website, taking customers nine “clicks” to access the right information. In addition, council did not specifically identify complaints in its management system. They regularly became mixed up with general service requests. Therefore, there was an inability to ascertain the difference between a request for service and an actual complaint. There was very little focus placed on customer experience levels during the complaints management process.
WHAT WE DID The objective of this Transformation Project was to establish a Complaints Management Framework that ensured legislative compliance, confidentiality, natural justice, and transparency for customers, council employees, and mayor/councillors. The following outcomes were achieved: A Complaints Management Framework was developed in-house in just eight months and is now available on both internal and external websites; The external website was updated to include information on customer feedback; A centralised Complaints Management Unit (CMU) – separate from the operating teams of council - was created to receive, record, triage, and report on all complaints lodged; A reporting structure has been created as part of the CMU framework, with reports analysed by the CMU before being delivered to the relevant operating teams with recommendations on identified trends; and Council now has a robust and well-established framework to enable appropriate decisions to be made for all complaint related activities. NOW Community members can now expect that any complaint they lodge about a council service and/or officer will be addressed effectively by a professional team - separate to the relevant operational area of council – and with transparency and good governance. Council staff can now expect that any resident or ratepayer complaints about them or a service they have delivered will be addressed with procedural fairness. The newly elected mayor and councillors can expect the council to continue to monitor customer experience levels and provide support to relevant operational areas to ensure council is dealing appropriately with complaints. SUPPORTING LINKS: Ipswich.qld.gov.au/residents/nuisances-and- complaints/complaints Ombudsman.qld.gov.au/make-a-complaint/ makecomplaint