Framework and Guideline for managing customer complaints
29 Nov 2023
Managing complaints, News
Queensland Public Service Customer Complaint Management Framework and Guideline
The Public Sector Act 2022 requires public sector entities (agencies) to establish and implement a customer complaint management system (CMS). In July, the Queensland Government released a new Framework and Guideline for a consistent approach to managing customer complaints. We discussed these new documents at the Complaint Handlers Network meeting in September.
The Framework is a high-level strategic statement, and the Guideline supports the Framework with operational details. Both documents align with the Australian Standard (AS 10002:2022).
The Framework does not change existing agency obligations that apply to managing specific types of complaints (for example, human rights, privacy complaints or corrupt conduct matters).
Better services in customer complaint handling
Customer complaints are to be:
- managed in a timely, people-focused and proactive manner
- accessible and culturally responsible.
- Each agency is responsible for maintaining its own complaint policies and procedures.
- Policies must be easily accessible to the public and agency employees. Publish policies on the agency's website and intranet. Hard copies should also be available for customers at the front counter or reception areas.
- The Guideline includes mandatory requirements for the content and structure of agency complaint policies. It includes strategies for handling unreasonable complainant conduct and the use of communication restrictions to safeguard the health, safety, and wellbeing of officers involved in complaint handling.
Whole of government online complaint form
- Complaints can be submitted via the whole of government webform. Complaints are provided to the relevant agency for acknowledgement and response.
Emphasising the three-tier model
The Guideline reinforces the three-tier model of complaint handling, with a strong emphasis on Frontline Resolution at Level 1:
- Level 1 – Initial complaint handling
- Level 2 – Internal review
- Level 3 – External review
Guideline introduces response timeframes
- Response timeframes are introduced for Level 1 and Level 2.
- Inform complainants of progress and provide new timeframes where delays are anticipated.
- Advise complainants of their internal and external review rights and complaint information requirements.
Coordinated multi-agency complaints
The Guideline encourages agencies to work together to provide a coordinated response and seek consent from the complainant to share information where needed.
Recordkeeping, reporting, and training
- Statutory recordkeeping obligations remain unaffected by the Framework and Guideline.
- Agency senior management should review CMS information at least every 6 months and promote knowledge sharing within the agency, including:
- Undertaking complaint satisfaction surveys.
- Appoint senior officers as complaint champions.
- All staff involved in complaint handling, should have access to procedures relevant to their role and be adequately trained to handle complaints. General complaint awareness training should be included in induction activities. Recommended specialised training includes complaint management and other topics such as customer service, mental health awareness, communication and writing skills, and effective communication skills.
Our Complaints Management Resource has been updated to include references to the Queensland Public Service Customer Complaints Management Framework and Guideline.
NOTE: Section 264(4) of the Public Sector Act 2022 defines a public sector entity as excluding universities and local government (other exclusions noted).