Customer Care and Compliments, Comments and Complaints Policy

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policy

Legal terms and policies

Reading time approx: 9 minutes
Published on 23 March 2022

1.0 STRATEGY

We protect and serve the public and we are rightly proud of the services we provide to the communities of the West Midlands. We receive many compliments about our work but, where something does not go quite as planned this provides an opportunity to review and improve our actions.

Our Customer Care policy and standards help us focus on the needs of those we provide a service to. These standards are a commitment to members of our community to provide a caring efficient and cost-effective fire service.

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is committed to providing customer care in all its dealings with its customers. One aspect of good customer care is to provide an avenue for receiving and dealing with compliments, comments or complaints.

WMFS expects its employees and volunteers to deliver its services with courtesy and care to the highest standards, no matter who they are dealing with.  The way in which WMFS is regarded by its customers is entirely dependent on the attitude of staff. Customer care is based upon providing the best service possible.

All of our customers must be given the same amount of care and consideration:

  • Regardless of the nature of the service being provided, whether it is of an emergency or non-emergency nature; and
  • Regardless of the circumstances of the individual requiring our services.  No judgement must be made on the social, personal or professional standing of individuals to decide the level of courtesy and care they should receive.

The service which WMFS provides to the communities of the West Midlands may result in members of the public wishing to compliment, comment or complain. It is important that they are given every opportunity to do this. This enables us to understand the effectiveness, or otherwise, of our service and learn from these experiences and to effect change.

2.0 PURPOSE

The procedure outlined in this policy has been designed to make it easier for WMFS employees and volunteers at any location to deal with the receipt of a compliment, comment or complaint and to ensure it is dealt within an appropriate manner at the most suitable level and within the standards timeframes 

​ ​The requirements in this policy extend to all WMFS employees and volunteers.

3.0 RESPONSIBILITY

Responsibilities are detailed within this policy.

4.0 PROCEDURES

4.1 Introduction to the compliment, comment and complaints (CCC) procedure

WMFS has a very positive attitude towards all forms of communication and sees any CCC as a possible opportunity for the improvement or amendment of our overall service – just because a complaint is received doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong, but if it is, we want to put it right.

It is important that all employees and volunteers understand that the public do not have to submit CCCs in writing to the Chief Fire Officer or confirm one in writing.

The Services Customer Care Standards offer an overview of the process that members of the community can expect from us.

4.2 Courtesy

​ WMFS employees and volunteers must always be courteous to callers and should give their name when answering a call. It may not always be immediately apparent what the nature of a call is, and it could require patience to establish if it is a compliment, comment or complaint.

Being courteous does not mean accepting abuse. People who feel aggrieved often feel agitated or angry. The recipient should try and defuse the situation.  If this is unsuccessful, then follow the appropriate guidance given in Appendix 1. All employees and volunteers of WMFS should familiarise themselves with this procedure.

4.3 Completing an electronic CCC

In the event of any CCC being received, an electronic CCC must be raised.

When logging into the home page of MESH Hub, the Customer Care option should be selected from the Systems tab on the navigation bar or by selecting the Customer Care button in the My Corner page of MESH.

Once on the customer care home page click on the Raise a CCC icon and follow the prompts on the screen for raising either a compliment, comment or complaint. You will be taken through a series of sections to complete the CCC .

The electronic CCC can only be completed by WMFS employees and volunteers.

If the point of receipt of a CCC is a fire station or fire control by telephone, the caller should be informed that an emergency call may necessitate the rapid termination of the conversation and advised that if the call is terminated for this reason that they will be contacted as soon as possible upon their return.

It is imperative that as much detail as possible is taken from callers. When you have all the details, read back to them what you have written and ask them to confirm it is accurate.

If the compliment, comment or complaint received is via a letter or email, an electronic CCC must still be completed.

A unique CCC will be generated which should be used in any correspondence relating to the CCC.

4.4 Criteria for dealing with complaints at point of receipt

Dealing with complaints at point of receipt usually entails being able to give a satisfactory answer to a caller there and then.  Most often, these are local issues which can be resolved by a conversation and an informal resolution can be achieved.

It is impossible to list every type of call which could be dealt with at the point of receipt, but if you are unsure, or the call may entail a financial claim, then refer it on to your line manager, after entering all the details onto the system.

Service Support Administration should also be notified immediately via email to people.support@wmfs.net of any insurance claim that may be made against the service  and they should also be copied into any communication that may have taken place.

4.5 When the electronic CCC has been completed

The following action is to be taken upon the completion of the electronic CCC.

The CCC should either be referred to the appropriate line manager for further investigation and to respond to the CCC or forwarded to Corporate Communications for further action.

For compliments and comments, the individual who has logged the information onto the system may at their discretion choose to send a thank you letter which should include a reference to the unique CCC number that has been allocated.

All complaints must be acknowledged within three working days of receipt by the individual logging the information or referred to the relevant line manager for further investigation.

Line managers should complete their investigations of complaints within ten working days of the date of initial contact and then update the system with the investigation and outcome of the initial complaint along with making contact with the complainant.

If it has not been possible to complete the investigation into the complaint within the 10 day timescale the complainant should be re contacted, given an update and advised when they can next expect to receive further communication.

The electronic CCC should be updated with the actions and relevant dates.

4.6 Advice for Line Managers

Compliments, comments or complaints received which relate to another Command Area, Station or Department should be recorded via the CCC system and then referred to the relevant line manager for action.

Most complaints which reach you can be investigated directly.  However, if the complaint is about:

  • You personally
  •             A more senior officer
  •             A member of the Fire Authority
  •             A politically sensitive issue

you should notify and forward the complaint to the Corporate Communications team (public.relations@wmfs.net), who will action it appropriately.

You may have started an investigation before it becomes apparent that it involves one or more of the above criteria if this becomes apparent any investigation should be stopped and Corporate Communications, public.relations@wmfs.net   informed who will then review the actions taken and refer on for further investigation as may be necessary.

4.7 Legal claim

Service Support Administration should also be notified immediately via email to people.support@wmfs.net or via telephoning 0121 380 6966/6901 of any complaint which could result in legal action or a compensatory claim against WMFS.

4.8 Investigations

Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, an investigation into a complaint should always include the investigating officer speaking to the complainant, as well as the person or persons to whom the complaint is directed. Investigating officers should endeavour to ensure that they do not adopt a ‘defensive attitude’ and remember that the complainant has a right to complain and may well be justified.

4.9 Correspondence and visits to complainants

Line managers should (except when a legal claim is involved) write to complainants, giving an overview of the outcome of the investigations. During the course of the investigations, a visit to the complainant may also if appropriate, further aid any investigation.

 The person or persons to whom the complaint was directed should also be advised of the outcome.

4.10 Further advice

If you require help and advice regarding any aspect of this procedure or to request assistance in translation, interpretation then please contact Corporate Communications at Fire Service Headquarters on phone numbers 0121 380 6102.

5.0 APPENDICES

Appendix 1 – Abusive Callers

1. Abusive phone callers

The action to be taken when receiving an abusive phone call is as follows:

  • If a phone caller is abusive, then you should calmly inform them that if they continue to be abusive, you will terminate the phone call.
  • If they continue to be abusive, terminate the call.
  • Fill in as much detail as possible on the electronic CCC form including that you terminated the call and why.
  • Refer to your Line Manager or, contact Corporate Communications.

2. Abusive personal callers

The procedure to be used when dealing with an abusive personal caller is as follows:

  • If a personal caller is abusive, calmly inform them that if they continue to be abusive, you will ask them to leave the premises.
  • If they continue to be abusive, calmly ask them to leave.
  • If they still continue to be abusive and refuse to leave, inform them if they do not leave you will call the Police.
  • If their behaviour continues, call the Police and ask for assistance.
  • When the situation allows, fill in as much information as possible on the electronic CCC including your actions, then refer to your line manager, or contact Corporate Communications.

Appendix 2 – Advice And Guidance

Investigation of Complaints

  • Any CCC referral will be found by accessing the email link that will be sent or by opening the Customer Care link on the MESH homepage, and opening the ‘My referrals’ tab on the front screen where you will be able to see any CCC that has been referred to you for action.
  • Most complaints, which reach you, can be investigated directly. However, if the complaint is about you personally, a more senior officer, a member of the Authority or a politically sensitive issue, please refer to Corporate Communications who will advise/respond to it appropriately.
  • Please ensure that you contact the complainant to acknowledge the complaint within three working days of receipt.
  • Legal claims – Administration should be informed immediately by telephone on 0121 380 6891 and then informed via email of any complaint which could result in legal action or a compensatory claim being made against the organisation.
  • Investigations into a complaint should always include speaking to the complainant as well as the person/persons to whom the complaint is directed. Investigating officers may if deemed appropriate visit complainants to ascertain or explain the situation.
  • Support can also be obtained by speaking to your Business Partner located in People Support Services.
  • During an investigation, Investigating Officers should try to ensure that they do not adopt a defensive attitude and remember that the customer has a right to complain and may well be justified.
  • Investigations should be completed 10 working days (where possible) after the initial acknowledgement at which point the Investigating Officer should inform the complainant of the outcome. If the investigation is going to take longer then please let the complainant know when to expect further information.
  • If you find for whatever reason that the complaint cannot be resolved, please contact Corporate Communications who will advise on further action.
  • Upon completion of the investigation the CCC should be updated with the outcomes and actions as necessary. Any paperwork that needs to be retained should be kept confidential and may be forwarded to Corporate Communications for retention.
  • At all times GDPR regulations must be adhered to in relation to the personal information held.
    West Midlands Fire Service will retain comments and compliments for a period of two years and may use content that you have provided for auditing purposes and trend analysis. WE may also use anonymised content as promotional material such as community fire safety promotional messages. Complaints will be retained for a period of three years for auditing purposes and trend analysis and will be securely destroyed after this period.
  • All entries made on the CCC record of events should be date stamped.
  • If you require any advice on the investigation of complaints, please ring the Corporate Communications on 0121 380 6102.

6.0 DOCUMENT CONTROL AND AUDIT

Audit 
Responsible SET Member Accountable  Corporate Communications
Authorised byMark Hamilton Russell
Direct enquiries toPolicyofficers@wmfs.net
EIA (Date Completed & Name)Complete. TBC
PIA (Date Completed & Name)Complete TBC
Review  History 
Version #DateReviewed By
1.01/11/2018Alison Newis, Corporate Communications
2.014/12/2021Alison Newis, Corporate Communications
   
Amendment History 
Version #DateAmended BySection AmendedAmendmentReason for change
2.014/12/2021Alison Newis, Corporate Communications  Entire PolicyChange in reference to CCC policy being applicable to both WMFS employees and volunteersReference in policy amended to state provision of customer care to all its customers rather than differentiating between internal and external customers. Updated to include references to how to navigate the new CCC system and the support available and additional actions in terms of ‘date stamping’ all entries.Removal of reference to Group Commander, Station Commander or Section Head which has been replaced with the reference to line manager.Additional note added to clarify that if an outcome has not been reached in ten days that they complainant needs to be updated on when a response can be expected. Addition of a bullet point that refers to the retention policy for the data eg., for compliments and comments held for 2 years and complaints for 3 years.Part of three yearly review cycle