BSBCMM301 – Refer Complaints Copy
Identify Complaints that require Referral to Other Personnel or External Bodies
Make Referrals to Appropriate Personnel for Follow Up in Accordance with Individual Level of Responsibility
When You Need Help
There will be times when a customer will complain to you and you know that it is either out of your area of responsibility, or you simply cannot do whatever is necessary to rectify the situation. There will be other times when an unhappy customer will demand to ‘see your manager!’ because they believe they will get a better outcome.
One of the challenges of customer service is knowledge – where your authority begins and ends. It is also about knowing that you are supported by your organisation in trying to please the customer. Hence, in either situation and after you have tried to satisfy the customer, you must hand them over to someone else. As the adage goes, “The devil is in the details.” This is certainly the case when it comes to the hand-over skills.
1. Always discuss if the customer wants to take their complaint to someone else.
2. Offer suggestions as to who would be best – another person on the floor, a supervisor, someone in another department, or even providing the number of a Hot Line.
Remember to ask for permission before making a referral.
Referrals may include:
• External bodies:
The Ombudsman is an officer of the Parliament, independent of the government of the day and acts impartially of all parties in dispute. Services are free and available to everyone.
○ Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was established by the NSW Government in 1988 in response to growing community concern about the integrity of public administration in NSW.
A summary of ICAC’s principal functions are:
› To investigate and expose corrupt conduct in the NSW public sector
› To actively prevent corruption through advice and assistance, and
› To educate the NSW community and public sector about corruption and its effects.
The jurisdiction of the ICAC extends to all NSW public sector agencies (except the NSW Police Force) and employees, including government departments, local councils, members of Parliament, ministers, the judiciary and the governor. The ICAC’s jurisdiction also extends to those performing public official functions.
The Police Service is the primary law enforcement agency for each State. They uphold the law and provide assistance to the community when necessary and in times of emergency, disaster and crisis.
They would primarily be contacted in cases of theft (internal or external customers), hold-ups or threatened violence.
When you are preparing to enable contact between the customer and the person who is to take over the complaint, take a minute to prepare for the meeting. The customer will not be happy if they have to wait while you run back and forth collecting dockets, products, or other items. So take a minute and think what might be needed.
No matter how good you think your customer service is, you will always get complaints. Even the best companies in the world will get complaints from time to time. More often than not your front-line staff and supervisors can deal with these issues, but there will be times when a complaint is so serious that it needs to be addressed by senior management.
When you have a serious complaint or when the implications to the organisation are severe, you may need to consider more senior staff to deal with the situation. This is simply because they are able to deal with things on a higher level and that they are able to be more flexible in finding solutions to these major issues.
Whether the process of receiving complaints is handled in-house or outsourced, it’s essential that those on the front line project professionalism and objectivity because they will create a lasting impression with customers about the quality of a company’s governance practices.
It’s important that customers understand that their complaints were registered, addressed, and whether more information is needed for follow-through. Customers need to be able to reinitiate a complaint if they do not think it was adequately addressed. If additional information is required the original customer service person should be able to provide additional information while remaining anonymous.
All complaints need to be documented, tracked, and explained. Always follow through on company representations and then feedback to the customer. Once you have handed the customer over to another, your job is not finished. You need to follow up on that person, ensure that the customer is informed and satisfied, and use the information acquired for your future reference.
1. Investigate referred customer complaints:
• Collect all the available information on the nature of the complaint, and identify and analyse the information
• Take personal responsibility for dealing with the complaint, subject to the limits of your authority
• Keep your customer informed about what steps are being taken to deal with their complaint
• Follow the correct procedures if your customer wishes to escalate the complaint even higher or if the complaint has wider implications for the organisation.
2. Take action to deal with referred customer complaints:
• Identify a range of possible solutions that balance customer expectations and your organisation’s service offer
• Liaise with your customer and colleagues to negotiate an acceptable solution
• Agree a solution that adapts current policies and procedures within your own authority and furthers your organisation’s aims and objectives
• Implement the agreed solution and liaise with your customer to ensure that they are satisfied with the action that has been taken.
3. Identify repeated customer complaints and recommend changes to policies and procedures:
• Analyse customer complaints over a significant period of time
• Identify patterns and trends, and the solutions that prove to be acceptable to your customer and fit the organisation’s service offer
• Identify possible changes to customer service policies and procedures
• Consider the benefits and drawbacks of each possible change in terms of balancing customer service and organisational aims
• Select an option for change and follow organisational procedures to ensure that your recommendations come to the attention of decision makers.
Forward All Documents and Investigation Reports
Follow Up Appropriate Personnel to Gain Prompt Decisions
All complaints regardless of nature or severity must be documented. A growing number of rules and regulations apply to businesses when they need to demonstrate that sufficient action was taken to address workplace complaints of any nature. One of the easiest ways to create evidence to prove your case is to document all of the steps taken from the time an incident was reported to the conclusion and decision made after the completion of an investigation.
Documentation can be used as a key tool for legal defence. Good documentation by supervisors and managers can mean the difference between an organisation winning and losing a lawsuit. For example, good documentation of an employee’s pattern of poor performance and discipline can establish that the employee’s firing wasn’t related to discrimination based on race, sex, age, religion, disability, or national origin. An employer may have a much more difficult time proving that without such documentation.
If taking the time to record incidents and information means the difference between winning or losing a case in court, wouldn’t it be easier to start documenting these matters now? The idea that you cannot be held liable simply because there’s no written record of an incident isn’t going to help you out.
Documentation can also benefit your business should an employee lodge a complaint after they have been removed from the organisation. The longer it takes for an incident to be reported, the worse will be your recall of the events and reasoning behind decisions made, which could make your statements invalid. Employees may come and go – as well as their feelings toward an employer – but the documents will always remain.
What to Record
Every incident, complaint and disciplinary action should be recorded. Records should include:
• Factual written summaries of incidents noting date, time, location, and persons involved
• Memos and letters
• Relevant work documents
• Meeting notes
• Performance evaluations
• Any other relevant paperwork to document your workplace problem – investigation interviews, witness statements, etc.
The investigator must carefully document the information learned during the investigation, and a record of each step of the investigation, including dates, times, locations and persons present, should be made.
All interviews must be documented through written notes or audio recordings made with permission of all parties. Although transcribing the interviews provides a complete and accurate record of the information shared during the interview, it can have a chilling effect on the interview process and cause employees to divulge less than they otherwise might have shared.
The notes should contain the facts gathered from the interviewee, not the investigator’s impressions or conclusions. If the investigator opts to create an interview record with written notes, they should consider having an additional person present during the interview whose job is only to take notes to ensure accuracy. In such a case, after the interview, both members of the investigative team should be involved in preparing the post-interview memoranda. The investigator should even document the reason why a potential witness was not interviewed. All potential witnesses and decision-makers should be followed-up to allow prompt decisions.
A written report is the most effective means of organising evidence and conclusions and is critical to demonstrating that the employer took the allegations seriously and responded appropriately. The report should contain:
• A description of the complaint and the investigative process.
• Identification of any relevant company policies or guidelines.
• A list of relevant evidence, including documents reviewed and witnesses interviewed, and if any known evidence was not reviewed, a reason why.
• A summary of the facts learned during the investigation relevant to each allegation.
• Conclusions.These should be based only on the evidence obtained during the investigation. Legal conclusions should be avoided, although conclusions regarding violations of policy are appropriate.
There is no need to make recommendations as to corrective action in the report, and the report should only be distributed to those individuals responsible for making a final determination as to corrective action.
Knowledge and Understanding
To be competent at handling referred customer complaints you need to know and understand:
• The importance of minimising customer complaints and dealing with them effectively and promptly when they occur
• Your organisation’s complaints procedures and the limits of your authority
• The procedures you must follow if a complaint is likely to be escalated or have wider implications
• The types of complaints that could have wider implications for your organisation
• Why it is important to communicate with your customer at all stages of a complaints procedure
• How to devise solutions that balance customer expectations and organisational aims
• Why it is important to identify and present to the customer a range of possible options
• Why it may be necessary sometimes to adapt organisational policies and procedures to provide a solution acceptable to your customer and how you could justify this
• How to identify trends and patterns in customer complaints and solutions.
• There will be times when a customer will complain to you and you know that it is either out of your area of responsibility, or you simply cannot do whatever is necessary to rectify the situation.
• There will be other times when an unhappy customer will demand to ‘see your manager!’ because they believe they will get a better outcome.
• One of the challenges of customer service is knowledge – where your authority begins and ends.
• It is also about knowing that you are supported by your organisation in trying to please the customer.
• Always discuss if the customer wants to take their complaint to someone else.
• Offer suggestions as to who would be best.
• When making such suggestions, keep in mind the degree of difficulty and who would really be able to solve the problem.
• Remember to ask for permission before making a referral.
• When you are preparing to enable contact between the customer and the person who is to take over the complaint, prepare for the meeting.
• It’s essential that those on the front line project professionalism and objectivity because they will create a lasting impression with customers about the quality of a company’s governance practices.
• It’s important that customers understand that their complaints were registered, addressed, and whether more information is needed for follow-through.
• All complaints need to be documented, tracked, and explained. Always follow through on company representations and then feedback to the customer.
• You need to follow up on the person the complaint was referred to, ensure that the customer is informed and satisfied, and use the information acquired for your future reference.