Tips and advice on effective complaint management

As a peak complaints resolution body, HaDSCO can provide education and training in the prevention and resolution of complaints. This service is delivered through:

  • Provision of quality information and reports to various organisations including the Minister for Health
  • Presentations and outreach to professionals e.g. service providers and lawyers
  • Tailored educational packages
  • Multi agency workshops

Within this section, HaDSCO has provided some helpful tips for complaints management. Read more about the HaDSCO training and education services, or contact the office and discuss educational opportunities.

Preparing the organisation

  • Produce a Complaints Management Procedure and train staff so they understand procedures
  • Provide staff training in customer service, complaint management and how to deal with difficult conversations.
  • Utilise staff areas for the promotion of policies e.g. staff information boards
  • Provide complaint forms in accessible areas
  • Consider developing a dedicated complaint resolution team
  • Utilise support networks within professional member organisation or peer groups i.e. the Australian Medical Association
  • Identify insurance requirements. Many professionals are required to consult with their insurer when they receive a complaint. They can provide legal and practical advice
  • Familiarise the organisation with relevant legislation
  • Provide complaint facilities online i.e. an online complaint form
  • Develop a complaint database to capture complaint information
  • Familiarise the organisation with details of external agencies which can provide help such as HaDSCO

Taking and dealing with written complaints

If the complaint is complex, encouraging the complainant to provide a complaint in writing can often be the most effective option for the following reasons:

  • Emotions can influence rational thought: setting out points in a written format can help the complainant to submit a clear and concise complaint
  • It enables the complainant to ensure all important details are provided
  • It allows planning and reflection
  • It allows the service provider time to review the complaint, consult documents and provide a thorough response

When taking a complaint in writing, try to encourage the complainant to provide all the necessary information. This may include:

  • Details of who was involved
  • Contact details
  • Details of the consumer (e.g. name, short history if relevant)
  • A summary of what happened, including relevant dates and locations
  • Copies of any relevant documents
  • Details of what is hoped to be achieved by making a complaint

HaDSCO encourage complainants to complete an official complaint form. Download a copy of the HaDSCO complaint form (PDF). This can provide guidance when producing in-house complaint forms.

Dealing with complaints in person

Dealing with a complaint in person can often be the quickest route to resolution. However, depending on the circumstances and the personalities involved, it can also be the most stressful and unconstructive.

When dealing with a complaint in person, it is important to consider the following:

  • When the best time to discuss a complaint face-to-face would be. By taking time out to gather information and consider concerns in-depth, the complaint can be resolved more effectively
  • Making an appointment or set up a scheduled meeting
  • A list of questions that require a response or circumstances that need clarification. Sending this to the complainant before meeting will provide them time to prepare
  • If it is suitable to bring support e.g. a representative from an insurance company
  • Make a note of the complaint and what the person’s desired outcomes from making the complaint are

Always ensure staff are fully trained in effective complaint management and empathetic. This can ensure a more effective resolution process and complaints may be resolved quicker.

Dealing with complaints via the telephone

When dealing with a complaint over the telephone, consider preparing well.

Things to be considered may include:

  • When is the best time to discuss a complaint? In a heated situation, conversations can go round in circles. By taking time out to gather information and consider concerns in-depth, the complaint can be resolved more effectively
  • A list of questions that require a response or circumstances that need clarification. Sending this to the complainant before discussing can provide them with time to prepare
  • Make a note of the complaint and what the person’s desired outcomes from making the complaint are
  • Making an appointment or set up a scheduled meeting
  • Follow up any unresolved concerns in writing
  • Have a pen and paper to hand

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