Why does complaint handling matter?

Australian Public Service agencies and contractors must deliver high quality programs and services to the Australian community in a way that is fair, transparent, timely, respectful and effective.

Errors, misunderstandings, dissatisfaction and unexpected problems occur in all administrative systems.

A good complaint handling service can:

  • fix problems before they escalate

  • provide better remedies for complainants

  • help you understand your customers

  • increase customer satisfaction and improve customer interactions

  • increase staff satisfaction

  • produce data and insights that help you continuously improve

  • inform decisions about future services and programs

  • enhance your agency's reputation and strengthen public trust in government.

Compare this with what can happen if you don't handle complaints well:

  • customer disengagement

  • more complaints escalated internally and to Ministers, MPs and oversight agencies

  • missed opportunities to improve

  • loss of valuable data

  • reputational damage

  • loss of trust in government.

You will also need a high quality complaint handling system to meet:

  • the expectations of oversight agencies and parliamentary committees

  • Broader government expectations about service delivery.

Good complaint handling will also help your agency meet general principles of good administration, including fairness, transparency, accountability, accessibility and efficiency.

Analysis of complaint data may identify opportunities for the improvement of administrative practices. The data may identify issues which are more appropriately drawn to the attention of policy makers.