This policy sets out the Group’s approach to feedback made by customers and other stakeholders. For the purpose of this policy, ‘customer’ refers to Great Places’ existing tenants, former tenants, market rent tenants, leaseholders, shared-owners and housing applicants. Complaints will also be considered by non-tenants, if the issues concern Great Places services or residents.
Great Places is committed to providing high quality services and we want to hear from customers about the services we are providing. If customers are not happy with the quality of a service that they have received, or the way they have been treated by Great Places colleagues or our contractors, they have the right to complain.
The person who receives, or has received services from Great Places, or any person affected by Great Places actions, omissions or decisions can make complaints. This includes members of a person’s family, or a person’s representative/advocate.
This policy encourages all types of feedback and additionally, anyone who has a relationship with Great Places can pass on compliments, comments and suggestions.
We aim to build on our reputation as an organisation, of being a provider of choice and excellence, ensuring we use customer feedback as a driver to deliver the improvements identified and that our customers want. We will inform our customers when they have influenced change to policy and improvements to services and publish our findings regularly on our website as well as annually in our Annual Report. Data on complaint handling will be considered alongside other management information at all levels throughout Great Places including board, executive, directors and colleagues.
Providing excellent customer services is one of our main corporate objectives and we aim to put the needs and aspirations of our customers at the heart of everything we do. This Customer Feedback policy complements our Customer Service principles:
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) must be complied with at all stages of the Customer Feedback policy. GDPR is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information from individuals. Consideration has been given to the Social Housing White Paper 2020. This paper sets out the actions the government will take to ensure that residents in social housing are safe, are listened to, live in good quality homes, and have access to redress when things go wrong.
Additionally, in drafting this policy, consideration has been made in line with the Regulator of Social Housing’s (RSH) regulatory framework, including the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard. It also reflects the Housing Ombudsman Scheme which enables a more proactive approach to systemic issues and broadens the basis on which cases can be referred to the Regulator of Social Housing. The Scheme includes a new Complaint Handling Code with a self-assessment requirement for landlords, a new power to issue complaint handling failure orders and the ability to conduct systemic or thematic investigations beyond an individual complaint or landlord. The Housing Ombudsman Service now publish all decisions on cases investigated in addition to separate performance data reports on landlords to ensure transparency and learning.
Great Places has also signed up to the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Complaints Handling Charter, which sets out the outcomes that an effective complaints handling service can achieve.
This policy is written in accordance with the Bribery Act 2010 and Equality Act 2010.
Policy Aims – The aims of this policy are:
In line with the Housing Ombudsman Service Complaints Handling Code, Great Places defines a complaint as, “an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the organisation, its own colleagues or those acting on its behalf, affecting an individual resident or group of residents”.
Great Places welcomes feedback about its range of services and sees complaints as an opportunity to learn from the perspective of our customers. Great Places will accept a complaint unless there is a valid reason not to do so. A requirement of the Housing Ombudsman Code is to clearly set out the circumstances in which a matter will not be considered a complaint and these are outlined below.
Examples of what is not considered a complaint include:
Although we do not treat these issues as a complaint under this Policy, we are committed to dealing with them in the appropriate manner. A detailed explanation should be provided to customers, setting out the reasons why the matter is not suitable for the complaints process whilst also explaining what action we can take, or have taken, outside of the complaints process.
Feedback addressed to the Chief Executive will be progressed in line with our Customer Feedback Policy
Depending on the severity of a colleague complaint, a Disciplinary or Capability procedure may need to be invoked. Complaints against colleagues will be received by the customer feedback team and passed to the individual’s Line Manager who will investigate and respond within 10 working days. In these circumstances full details of any action taken against an individual colleague will not be disclosed to the complainant.
We define a compliment as:
Compliments are passed on to colleagues and their Line Manager. Compliments are also logged centrally for sharing more widely, and are used to identify areas of good practice that Great Places can learn from.
There may be occasions when customers do not want to make a complaint but want to highlight something that Great Places could do differently or in a better way. Comments or suggestions from customers are invaluable and we encourage customers to let us have this feedback to help us to shape and improve the services we offer. Feedback should be provided to the Customer Feedback team to allow recording, review and learning.
Customers can pass on feedback in the following ways:
A representative of a person may also make a complaint. The representative must be acting on behalf of a person who has a right to complain and where the person:
Great Places acknowledges that sometimes we get things wrong or don’t meet the high levels of service our customers expect. We want to ensure that we resolve customer complaints about service quality as quickly as possible and have therefore developed a simple and clear process for resolving complaints. The process adheres to the principles outlined in the Housing Ombudsman Service Complaint Handling Code regarding complaint resolution.
Great Places aims to ensure that any remedy offered in response to a complaint reflects the extent of any and all service failures, and the level of detriment caused to the resident as a result. These may include:
Great Places is committed to providing a Customer Feedback service that is accessible to all customers, however, on the rare occasion that it is identified that a customer’s actions are unacceptable, we reserve the right to restrict or change this access.
Unfortunately there are rare occasions where Great Places considers the actions or behaviour of a customer unacceptable. The following section explains how Great Places will deal with the very few occasions when this issue arises. We do not view behaviour as unacceptable just because someone is assertive or determined. There may have been upsetting or distressing circumstances leading up to a customer approaching Great Places and people may act out of character. However the actions of some customers who are angry or persistent may result in unreasonable demands on, or behaviour towards our colleagues we will take appropriate action to manage such behaviour. We have grouped the behaviour under two broad headings:
Aggressive or abusive behaviour
Our colleagues understand the difference between anger and aggression. For example many complainants feel angry about the events that resulted in them contacting us. However, it is not acceptable when anger escalates into aggression towards our colleagues. Aggression is not restricted to acts that may result in physical harm but also includes behaviour or language that may cause colleagues to feel afraid, threatened, or abused.
Examples of aggressive behaviour include:
Reports of this type of behaviour will be investigated and managed by our Managing Abusive and Aggressive Behaviour Policy.
Customers may make what we consider unreasonable demands if they impact substantially on our work through the amount of information they seek or provide, the nature and scale of service they expect, or the regularity or number of approaches they make.
Examples of this behaviour include:
The way in which these customers approach us may be reasonable, but it is their persistent behaviour in continuing to do so that is not.
How we manage unreasonable demands will depend on the nature and extent of it. Steps we may take include, separately or in combination:
Customers will be informed in writing of any decision to invoke these steps and the customer can appeal the decision by writing to the Customer Voice Manager.
Where financial compensation is requested or is being considered, each case will be reviewed on its merits. In line with the Housing Ombudsman code, in awarding compensation, Great Places will consider whether any statutory payments are due, if any quantifiable losses have been incurred as well as the time and trouble a resident has been put to and any distress and inconvenience caused.
Great Places will look at complaints received, their outcome and proposed changes as part of its reporting and planning process. It will ensure feedback at an operational level to service managers to ensure immediate learning on individual cases – such as training or record keeping. The Customer Feedback Team will also produce regular reports that will be shared with Managers, Senior Management and Directors, Customer Insight Group, Exec and Board that highlight themes or trends and that allow senior management to review and identify any systemic issues, serious risks or areas for organisational improvement. Annual reporting to board will include the Ombudsman’s annual landlord performance report.
Great Places will inform our customers when they have influenced change to policy and improvements to services and publish our findings regularly on our website as well as annually in our Annual Report.
Roll out of this policy will include initial training for relevant colleagues, followed by refresher training as appropriate.
Great Places can exercise discretion in how to respond to a complaint and may deal with a complaint differently where individual circumstances merit it. This may include not escalating complaints where a customer provides no clear reason for disagreeing with a decision at stage one of the process. Where a complaint is not escalated, the customer will be deemed to have exhausted the Great Places complaints process and will be advised of their options to escalate to the Housing Ombudsman Service.
Policy Approval Date: March 2021
Equality Impact Assessment Date: February 2021
Policy Review Date: Annual March 2022 & 2023
Full review 2024
Lead Team: Customer Experience
Level of Authorisation Required: Operational Directors