When complaints are made, you should assess them in order to decide who will deal with them, what priority should be given to them, as well as a timeframe in which they should be resolved. If a complaint can be resolved immediately, make every effort to do so. If the complaint cannot be resolved immediately, decide what further action is required to manage the complaint.
Clarify issues raised by the complainant and then prioritise the complaint against others you are currently managing, if necessary. If possible, you can initially ask the complainant how they would like to see the complaint resolved. Then you need to gather all the information required to resolve the com-plaint, and undertake a fair, impartial and timely investigation, keeping written notes as you go.
Steps for assessing the complaint
There are some important steps you need to take in order to effectively assess a complaint. These are:
- Identify whether or not the complaint is one that means you have obligations under the ACL
- Assess the level of seriousness of the complaint (for example, is it an urgent health issue?)
- Work out whether the complaint is about a product or service, and therefore, who is the most appropriate person to deal with this complaint
- Consider whether there are multiple complaints and if so, whether they need to be dealt with separately
- Consider the situation of the person making the complaint (are they more vulnerable than some?
Some people who make complaints might have difficulties which mean that they have a decreased ability to understand the goods and services as well as the conditions that might apply to them, or they might have an increased risk of being affected badly by a particular product or service. Sometimes there people are referred to as disadvantaged, or they might simply be more vulnerable due to the situation they are in at the time. Some examples of difficulties include problems understanding English, having an intellectual disability, being on a very low income, or those experiencing a crisis in their lives. The person might have a long term condition, such as being deaf, which puts them at a higher risk. It is important that your business allows these people to make complaints easily and that they are dealt with in a way that will be most helpful for them. Working out whether a person is having these difficulties requires you to have an assessment process in place.
For more information on vulnerable consumers, please refer to this fact sheet. (insert fact sheet 4)
- As soon as a complaint is made you need to consider whether it is urgent, whether you have obligations under the Australian Consumer Law, what is the nature of the complaint, and whether there is more than one issue being raised.
- Consider whether the person making the complaint has difficulties and work out how to best deal with them to try to resolve the complaint in a way which meets their specific needs. For example, if the person is deaf, workout the best way to contact them, other than by using the telephone. Or for example, if their English is not very good, work out whether you can you deal with them or whether you need to provide an interpreter