Hampshire County Council
Policy and Resources Policy Review Committee
29 May 2003
Compliments, complaints and feedback monitoring
Report of the County Treasurer
Contact: Paul Carey-Kent, ext 7525
1.1 The County Council's complaints policy requires departments to report the appropriate policy review committee on their monitoring of complaints and compliments. This report covers the period 2002/03 for County Treasurers.
1.2 These results need to be seen in the context of the department's overall strategy to ensure good communication and feedback from customers. Accordingly these themes are picked up.
2.1 The department uses both proactive and reactive means of obtaining feedback from both customers and staff. The main ones are:
· A customer Quality Review which takes place about every 2 to 3 years, and which takes the form of visiting some 120 customers to carry out a structured interview designed to find out not just `how we are doing' but also what ideas they have for improvement. The last of these took place in 2001/02. The next is due is due in 2004.
· A parallel process, called `Listening to You' is also undertaken periodically to find out in a similar structured way views of all staff through interviews with managers. This was carried out in the Autumn of 2002. It was encouraging to find that, despite the considerable pressures caused in particular by systems change, staff confidence remained at similar levels to those when the exercise was previously carried out in 1997.
· Some types of work lend themselves to specific customer feedback on particular pieces of work - audit, consultancy and provision of training. Those results then feed into assessment of performance. In audit, for example very poor marks are treated as a complaint (9%, 48 out of 531 audits carried out in 2002/03) and at the other end of the scale top marks in all categories were given by 37% of customers.
· Regular surveys are carried out of external customer groups not covered by the Quality Review process. In 2002/03 these were on the other authorities/bodies to whom pension services are provided (good results with 76% valuing the service highly and only 4% giving poor marks) pensioners on the level of service, literature and letters provided to them (excellent results with 99% expressing satisfaction), students receiving support (also excellent results, with 95% expressing complete satisfaction). The next year's surveys will include suppliers paid by the County Council.
· The department also holds an open day every two years at which customers are invited to attend talks, systems demonstrations, tours of sections to see how they work and stands set up to answer their questions. This is another helpful way of obtaining customer views as well as improving communications.
· Information from these mechanisms feeds through the department's Quality Review Management Team (QRMT), made up of staff from different levels across the department, who consider what can be done to improve customer service. They also receive quarterly reports on compliments and complaints, which make up the more reactive side of dealing with customer feedback.
2.2 Complaints are recognised as valuable information that helps the department to identify opportunities for improvement. Each complaint is investigated by the relevant service manager and an appropriate response made to the customer. Where a problem is revealed, consideration is given not just to rectifying action but also to system change as appropriate in order to prevent a recurrence. Appendix A gives a few examples of complaints leading to systems improvement, extracted from QRMT reports.
3.1 There has been an increase in abusive telephone calls in recent years, for example from staff frustrated by pay issues which were blamed on payroll systems whatever the cause. Training has taken place to help Treasurer's staff to deal with this, and consideration is also being given to whether some calls might be recorded.
4.1 This year was a particularly challenging one in terms of customer service due to the systems changes occurring, in particular with the implementation of a new payroll system, SAP, which was completed during the year. It was pleasing to note, therefore, that complaints were reduced compared with 2001/02 (173 in 2002/03 compared with 205 in 2001/02) and shows signs of reducing to the levels before the complications of a new IT system and that in particular the number of complaints in the fourth quarter was low in spite of the transfer of all teaching staff onto the new payroll with effect from January 2003.
4.2 Compliments are also recorded, although it is in their nature that as they do not require corrective action, they receive less attention and are less likely to be captured formally. Efforts are being made to improve on this. The breakdown of complaints shows that 61% were from internal customers and 39% from external customers. Appendix B sets out in more detail the compliments and complaints received.
4.3 One complaint was referred to the ombudsmen during the year 2002/03. This was a Blue Badge appeal, the outcome was to uphold the original decision not to offer a Blue Badge.
3.2 None of the complaints reported were considered to have a racial element to them.
3.2 Good systems are in place to record and investigate customer complaints. The opportunity is taken to learn from the complaints and where appropriate improvement actions are taken.
That this report is noted. That the PRC continues to receive an annual report on compliments and complaints within the County Treasurer's department.
Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers
The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.
NB the list excludes:
Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.