Complaints procedures in local government : informing your customers
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Brennan, C. & Douglas, A. (2002) Complaints procedures in local government : informing your customers, International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 15, , pp. 219-236,
Recently, the British Standards Institution (BSI) issued a new standard: BS 8600:1999 Complaints Management Systems - Guide to Design and Implementation. This standard tends to focus on those systems and procedures that organisations put into motion after a complaint has been received. However, for many customers, particularly of large organisations such as local government services, the problems begin with knowing how to gain access to the complaints system. In the public sector this visibility usually takes the form of some kind of information leaflet which should detail certain basic information that will allow customers to access the complaints system. This paper develops a framework for an effective customer complaints information leaflet and then evaluates Scottish councils' corporate complaints information brochures against this framework to determine whether or not they meet its acceptance criteria for effectiveness. Each leaflet was evaluated against 12 points of good practice developed from both Central Government's guidelines and the new British Standard guidelines. The results showed that although a majority of them met many of the framework criteria, a significant proportion fell well short of what would be deemed acceptable.