It is important to have a procedure in place for any complaints that may be received. By having the process available, it allows the complaint to be dealt with in a timely and satisfactory manner.
Some organisations have a separate complaints procedure and some include it into their rules (example here). There are also many examples of how to write a complaints procedure available on the internet from which you can produce your own document.
You may consider basing your document around the following procedures:-
- Listen to the complaint. Accept ownership of the problem. Apologise. Don’t blame others. Thank the person for bringing the problem to your attention.
- Be understanding. Remember, the person is complaining about your organisation, not about you personally. Be calm, cheerful and helpful. Where possible, let the person know that you will take the matter to your committee to resolve the problem.
- Record the complaint. Detail the complaint so that you and others know exactly what the problem is. Have one place to record complaints and the actions taken to resolve them. This lets you see any patterns emerge over time. Complaints about a particular process might indicate that changes need to be made.
- Make sure you have all the facts. Check that you understand the details while the person is making the complaint and ask questions if necessary. This will also let them know that you are taking their complaint seriously.
- Discuss options for fixing the problem. At the very least, a sincere apology costs nothing.
- Keep your promises. Don’t promise things that you can’t deliver. In handling complaints, it is better to under-promise and over-deliver.
- Be quick. If complaints take too much time to resolve or are forgotten, they can escalate.
- Follow up. Check to see if the complainant is happy with how their complaint was handled. Let them know what you are doing to avoid the problem in the future.
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