Being customer focussed
Public bodies should promptly identify and acknowledge maladministration and poor service, and apologise for them.
An apology means:
- acknowledging the failure
- accepting responsibility for it
- explaining clearly why the failure happened
- expressing sincere regret for any resulting injustice or hardship.
In some cases, it may also be appropriate to express sympathy. Public bodies should consider:
- which organisational level the apology should come from
- who should apologise
- the most appropriate form of apology, for example in person, by telephone or in writing.
It is important to manage expectations from the start, and to explain clearly to the complainant what is and is not possible, so they understand what may be achieved for them. It is possible that the complainant may:
- expect too much
- not fully understand their rights and responsibilities
- have contributed to or prolonged the injustice or hardship.
Public bodies should make clear to complainants that remedies aim to:
- return them to the position they would have been in if the maladministration or poor service had not happened, if possible
- compensate them appropriately, if that is not possible.
Public bodies should do the following:
- consider the wishes and needs of the complainant in deciding an appropriate remedy, but remedies should not lead to a complainant making a profit or gaining an advantage
- behave professionally and with regard to individual circumstances
- aim to remedy injustice or hardship in a timely way. If the complaint is about a very complex or sensitive issue, or involves more than one service provider, the complainant should be given a single point of contact
- consider all the circumstances of the case and try, wherever possible, to offer a remedy that is calculated fairly and impartially but is still appropriate.