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Using Complaints As A Catalyst For Change In The Public Sector

Monday, 21 October 2019

No organisation, whether private or public sector, can deliver faultfree services all the time, however hard they may try. The true test is how authorities deal with challenges when they arise and how they respond to and manage complaints.

Complaint management can be so much more than ensuring compliance with pre-existing rules and regulations. As attitudes change and the real worth of complaints is widely recognised, they should be acknowledged as a learning opportunity and used as a tool to implement changes that support the improvement of services or to the organisation in general.

Migrating towards a system where complaints can assist with business change and innovation should be jumped on to ensure citizens remain key stakeholders in public bodies. The invaluable feedback received via complaints can go a long way to rethinking currently imperfect processes and/or services.

Whilst no organisation actively invite complaints, those that are received should we welcomed as a learning and development opportunity. 

Welcoming Complaints

According to a report by the National Audit Office consumers are less likely to complain about a public service than a private service – almost half of users who experience problems do not complain, with the main reason being that they don’t think it is worth the effort (35%). Public bodies can rectify this by focusing on accessibility. There are opportunities to do this this in a cost effective manner by maximising existing investments in Office or Dynamics 365 licenses for example, to develop complaint management platforms that are easy to use and access for both citizens and staff, ensuring a clear two-way communication platform.

By welcoming complaints and developing a pleasant UX, organisations will gain valuable insights into how the organisation is perceived by the public. Bear in mind that for every complaint received there will be citizens who felt the same grievance however chose not to get in touch. 


As well as dealing with complaints in a timely manner, a thorough analysis of complaints should be performed in an attempt to highlight trends. An effective complaints management platform will allow you to filter by complaint type/or any other custom field you desire. Through analysis you will obtain actionable insights and further remedial action can be taken within the business if required.

Resolution and trust building

Complaints is one way public bodies can engage directly with citizens. Through interaction and resolution you can take an initially negative experience and turn it in to a positive. 

Having a complaints system in place that lends itself to two-way communication, that is easy to access and use, is transparent and delivers a clear outcome that can be communicated to the complainant, will lead to confidence in the system and can future proof an organisation for long-term benefits.

Trust in your organisation and service can be built through continued good complaints management practice that not only delivers results or feedback to citizens, but when the complaints received are analysed and when necessary, real actionable insights can be delivered.