Headlines: May 19th, 2006

Public sector organisations are failing to keep pace with their customers’ complaints, at a time when the volume of complaints and sense of urgency are rising sharply. They are trailing other sectors such as retail and leisure. They are also failing to make use of the valuable feedback that complaints reveal about service delivery. There are, however, local authorities in the survey whose exceptional performance bucks the trend and scores better in the survey than major commercial brands. These findings come from the National Complaints Culture Survey by the Institute of Customer Service and organisational development company TMI.Over the past five years public sector organisations have consistently been viewed by consumers as the least effective at handling complaints. Twenty-six per cent of respondents rated public sector organisations as the least effective at handling complaints, compared to 19 per cent for the finance sector and 16 per cent for retail.

Customers’ main frustration is responsiveness. Complaining by e-mail has shot up to 40 per cent in 2006 from seven per cent in 2001. Ninety-four per cent of people making complaints by email want their complaints handled within one week, but only 49 per cent see this in reality. The slowness to handle email complaints is worrying in a sector so keen to encourage its customers to use the internet and might suggest that they are only doing this to cut their own operational costs, rather than boosting customer service.

Seventy-one per cent of directors see complaints data reports on a weekly or monthly basis but public sector directors are likely to see reports less frequently, even quarterly.

Link: e-mail nccs@tmi.co.uk