Introduction: Our Customer Care Charter
We aim to provide high-quality services for our customers, including up to date and accurate information and our Customer Charter sets out the standards we will seek to achieve.
We promise to listen courteously and try to be available at times that suit our customers, to try to understand their needs and help find a solution to meeting them. We promise to treat our customers with respect, to be fair and honest in our dealings with them and to admit and learn from our mistakes if we get things wrong.
We are constantly looking at new ways to improve our services and we welcome all customer comments. We have derived a set of principles that confirm our approach to creating a front-line Customer Care Service which is empowered and enabled to deal with enquiries and full details are of our Customer Care Charter are available via our web-site or upon request.
Customer Feedback: Policy Aims and Commitments
All customer feedback is encouraged to inform service improvement, raise the profile and reputation of the Council, and develop more responsive ways of working that puts the customer at the heart of everything we do.
How the Council handles and responds to the feedback (complaints, compliments and comments) is a key indicator of success and we are committed to:
- using customer feedback to improve the quality of our services
- improving our relationships with our customers
- identifying our failures and resolving them reasonably and quickly
- monitoring and identifying complaints trends to inform and improve service delivery
- ensuring our customers and employees are aware of and can access our Customer Feedback Scheme
3 Definitions of Complaints, Compliments and Comments
The Council has adopted the following definition of a complaint suggested by the Public Services Ombudsman:
" An expression of dissatisfaction by one or more members of the public about the Council’s action or lack of action, or about the standard of service, whether the action was taken or the service provided by the Council itself, or by a person or body acting on behalf of the Council. "
A complaint is not:
- the reporting of a fault, e.g. a faulty street light
- an initial service request, e.g. fly tipping to be removed
- a first request for information, or explanation of the Council’s policies or decisions
- representations about the merits of the Council’s policy decisions
- complaints issues that are not the responsibility of the Council
"An expression of praise concerning a high level of service delivery and/or customer care received".
"Proposals to help the Council improve its service delivery and/or aspects of customer care".
How to Feedback
The process for Customer feedback is explained in our ‘Help us To Improve’ leaflet. (Customers can include members of the public or their representative, businesses, public and voluntary bodies).
Customers may submit feedback in the language of their choice through a range of channels (by telephone, letter, in person, via e-mail or on-line complaints form)
Comments, compliments and complaint online form
All feedback will be logged, dealt with and responded to, in accordance with this Policy, with the exception of information requests, which will be dealt with separately as Freedom of Information requests.
Feedback from Children
A leaflet entitled " Help Us To Improve – Get It Sorted" has been produced specifically to obtain feedback from children and young people up to the age of 18, about services they receive and is available from schools, leisure centres and other Council establishments.
Acknowledgements will be sent within 5 working days of receipt in respect of all feedback (complaint, compliments and comments)
Compliments and comments which warrant a response will be replied to within 15 working days .
Complaints will receive a substantive response within 10 working days of receipt at stage 1, and within 20 working days at stage 2.
If the response target cannot be met at any stage, the customer must be advised of this in writing as soon as possible, with a revised timescale for response.
Procedures for Feedback
For the purposes of dealing with customer feedback, the Council will deal with personal details in line with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will only pass such information to Council officers who need access to it
Dealing with Compliments and Comments.
- compliments received will be acknowledged and brought to the attention of the manager and staff member(s) concerned
- comments received will be acknowledged and once evaluated, if possible to improve service delivery, the manager will write to the sender, advising of the outcome
Dealing with Complaints (2 stage process)
The two stages of our Complaints procedure are outlined below.
The Council will aim to resolve the complaint or put things right swiftly and as far as possible at this point, to avert the need for Stage 2.
- stage 1 complaints can be made by a customer or someone acting on their behalf, with their consent, by telephone, in writing, face to face, via e-mail or the Council’s website
- complaints will be referred to the appropriate officer to deal with, and acknowledged within the Council’s stated service standards
- an officer will arrange for the matter to be resolved and will respond to the customer in the manner that he/she approached the Council. Where appropriate, a letter of response will be sent to the customer, together with advice on how to progress the matter in writing to Stage 2 of the complaints procedure if still dissatisfied
If a customer is dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint at Stage 1, they may refer it to Stage 2 for formal investigation.
- a senior officer within the Council will deal with your Stage 2 complaint and may be independent to the service your complaint concerns. All relevant documents/policies will be examined and, if appropriate, the customer and staff member(s) involved will be interviewed
- a formal, detailed letter of response will be sent to the customer, in a bid to resolve the matter to his/her satisfaction. Where a complaint is upheld, it will involve a written apology, and if appropriate, detail actions to be taken to remedy the complaint, to prevent a repetition in the future
- should a customer disagree with the outcome of a Stage 2 complaint, he/she may refer the matter to the Public Services Ombudsman to request an independent investigation
OTHER POINTS TO NOTE:
- staff may assist a customer to make a written complaint at any stage. Alternatively, a friend, Councillor, Assembly Member, Member of Parliament, or an organisation, such as Age Concern, or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau may assist or act on their behalf and the procedures outlined in this policy will apply
- difficulties can occur trying to investigate complaints retrospectively, so the Council expects customers to raise their complaint within 12 months of becoming aware of the problem. Complaints received outside this timescale will not be investigated, unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated
- complaints of a “cross-service” nature involving a number of Council service areas will receive one single coordinate response, wherever possible
- anonymous complaints received will be referred to a manager to determine whether the issue raised warrants investigation. However, it will not be possible for a response to be sent to the customer
- council employees will not participate in, or respond on behalf of the Council to feedback using open forum web-sites
Complaints Concerning the Council and its Partners
Complaints may occasionally be received which relate to the actions of a ‘partnership’ arrangement between the Council and another organisation. The Council will work with them to decide who should take the lead in dealing with the matter and will notify the customer of key contact details, to enable them to progress their complaint.
Exceptions to Complaints Procedure
Most complaints will be dealt with in accordance with this procedure. However, certain types of complaints are covered by other procedures including:
- allegations of criminal activity
- approved working practices
- complaints about Councillors
- council Policies
- council Tax Matters
- data Protection Matters
- determination of Housing Benefit entitlement
- employment matters
- freedom of Information matters
- homelessness matters
- legal and Insurance claims
- parking Contravention notices
- planning applications
- school Matters
Should any of the above types of complaint be received under our Customer Feedback Scheme. Complaints Procedure, these will be referred to the relevant service to be dealt with.
Verbal/Written Abuse from Customers
- the Council expects its employees to be treated with courtesy and respect. Verbal abuse or aggressive behaviour from customers by telephone, in face-to-face situations, or in writing, will not be tolerated
- if employees experience such abuse, they will advise customers that their call/visit will be terminated if the behaviour continues. In the case of written abuse, Managers should respond stating that written abuse is unacceptable and that more appropriate language should be used in any future written dealings with the Council
A "vexatious or unreasonably persistent complainant" can be defined as:
" Someone who is not seeking to resolve a dispute between themselves and the Council, but is seeking to cause unnecessary aggravation or annoyance to the Council."
- In such cases, restricted contact arrangements will be considered and the Council's Unreasonably Persistent Customer Policy may be applied. The Council will reserve the right to decline further contact with the customer.
Please view our Unreasonably Persistent Customer Policy (pdf)
Requests refused under the Freedom of Information Act
- when information is declined under the Freedom of Information Act , a person may request a review of the decision. The Service Director for Legal Services will undertake a review of the decision, and will respond to the person within 20 working days concerning the outcome of the review
- if a person remains dissatisfied with outcome of the appeal, he/she may contact the Information Commissioner, at the following address:
The Information Commissioner
Tel: 029 2067 8400
Fax : 029 2067 8399
Quality Monitoring and Reporting Process
Use of Feedback to Inform
The Council will use the outcome of complaints and any remedial action taken as a positive method of improving services. An annual summary of "You Said, We Did" will reflect this.
(ii) Standards attained
Compliance with our response standards are reported on a quarterly and annual basis.
Dissatisfaction with our Complaints Procedure
If dissatisfied with the outcome of a complaint, a customer may contact the Public Services Ombudsman, to request an independent investigation of their case. Contact details for the Ombudsman are as follows:
The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales
1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae,
Tel: 0300 7900203
Ombudsman complaints are co-ordinated by Legal and Democratic Services, who act as the link between the Council and the Ombudsman. It is the responsibility of each service to investigate, and respond to Legal and Democratic Services, providing all relevant documentation and evidence.
Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council,
Tel: 01443 425005
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