Customer complaints to SBC decrease

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A total of 684 complaints were lodged with Scottish Borders Council about its performance in the year to March 31, 2016 – down by 10 on the previous year.

Although 120 of the gripes were deemed invalid, 251 of the remainder were upheld, councillors heard this week.

A report from customer services officer Claire Tracy, noted at Tuesday’s meeting of SBC’s executive committee, stated of the 684 complaints received, 49 were voiced in person at council offices or library/contact centres, 268 were made by telephone, 209 were lodged online, 72 were conveyed by letter and 86 by email.

The report states that 480 complaints (85%) were “closed”, with a response sent and no further action required, at the first stage of the new procedure – where resolution is normally an on-the-spot apology or an explanation that something has clearly gone wrong.

Of these stage one complaints, 213 were upheld and 267 were not upheld.

Stage two, which requires a detailed investigation, a discussion with the complainer and a full response within 20 working days, was required for 80 complaints of which 31 were upheld. Another 17 complaints were upheld during the “escalation” period between stages one and two.

This week’s report gave case study examples of how council services can be improved as a result of complaints from the public.

In one instance, a customer telephoned to book an appointment to register the death of a family member and was left hanging on in a long queue.

“This was not acceptable at such a difficult time for them and, as a result of the complaint, we have worked closely with two local funeral directors to develop an online booking system,” stated the report.”