Complaints Management Policy

The Small Business Development Corporation’s (SBDC) commitment to service is backed by a professional team dedicated to providing excellent service to the small business sector. Our aim is to continuously improve our service by regularly surveying our customers to ensure we are meeting their needs and expectations and encouraging feedback on our performance. This Policy provides comprehensive guidelines for customer feedback and supports the Corporation’s Customer Service Charter, Code of Conduct and the requirements of the Public Sector Management Act 1994

1. Purpose, scope and principles

1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this Policy is to:

  • provide an avenue for customer communication and feedback;
  • recognise, promote and protect the customer’s rights, including the right to comment and provide feedback on service;
  • provide an efficient, fair and accessible framework for resolving customer complaints and monitoring feedback to improve service delivery;
  • inform customers on the customer feedback handling processes; and
  • provide staff with information about the customer feedback process.

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1.2 Scope

The Complaints Management Policy details the major components of the management of feedback. The components include the receipt, management and determination of all customer feedback.

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1.3 Definition of complaint

A complaint is:

  • Any expression of dissatisfaction or concern made to an organisation by, or on behalf of, an individual client – including government agencies – group or member of the public, that relates to the organisation’s products or services, or the performance, behaviour and conduct of staff, or the complaints handling process itself.
  • A complaint may be made in person, by phone, fax, email or in writing.

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1.4 Principles of effective complaints management

The customer complaint policy is based on the following principles:

  • customers should be encouraged to voice their concerns at the point of service as soon as they feel unsatisfied. Staff may then be able to resolve the matter without delay;
  • wherever possible, complaints should be resolved at the point from which they originate; and
  • information about how and where to complain should be well publicised to customers, personnel and other interested parties.
  • Complaint management mechanisms should be easily accessible to all complainants. The process should be easy to find, use and understand.

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1.5 Objectivity

Each complainant should be addressed in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner through the complaints handling process. The principles of objectivity include:

  • Openness; to ensure both personnel and complainants understand the complaints handling process.
  • Impartiality; to ensure a balanced consideration of all information/evidence is undertaken before a complaint can be resolved without fear or favour.
  • Confidentiality; to ensure the complainants and customer’s identities are protected.
  • Accessibility; to ensure all parties concerned are aware of the complaints handling process and the lodged complaints progress.
  • Completeness; to ensure all available information/evidence has been collected from both sides.
  • Equity: to ensure equal treatment to all people.
  • Sensitivity; to ensure each case is considered on its merits, paying due care to individual differences and needs.

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2. Policy

2.1 Customer rights

The Public Sector Code of Ethics requires all public sector employees to comply with the minimum standards of conduct and integrity based around the principles of personal integrity, relationships with others, and accountability.

Where a customer raises a complaint, they have the right to have that complaint:

  • received and addressed in strict confidence;
  • addressed in a spirit of helpful cooperation and sensitivity; and
  • resolved promptly.

To assist in achieving this, complaints will be kept separate from other records held by the SBDC and information that would identify complainants will not be released in individual or aggregated form to anyone not involved in the customer complaint procedure without prior written permission from the Managing Director.

When a complaint cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant, customers have the right to be referred to an external body.

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2.2 Staff rights

The Complaints Management Policy is designed to identify opportunities for improving customer satisfaction with the delivery of products and services and enhance the customer/provider relationship. However, it is recognised that complaints will sometimes name individual staff. In accordance with the Public Sector Commission - Code of Ethics staff have certain rights, including the right to appropriate feedback and communication on work performance, fair and consistent treatment and reasonable avenues of redress. These rights are to be respected at all times, particularly in complaints where staff are cited.

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2.3 Specific responsibilities

2.3.1 All staff

  • are responsible for receiving customer feedback;
  • are to give priority to assist in the resolution of customer complaints. They will resolve minor verbal complaints where appropriate or refer more serious verbal or written complaints directly to their Director; and
  • shall record the details of minor verbal complaints received and resolved and send to their Director.

2.3.2 Directors

  • ensure that the Complaints Management Policy is implemented in their respective section;
  • advise the Managing Director of the nature of any major complaints and action taken/to be taken;
  • document all complaints received and how they were resolved, including any changes that may be required to delivery of service; and
  • review and investigate all unresolved complaints under the direction of the Managing Director.

2.3.3 Managing director

  • will take overall responsibility for any complaints and have them addressed through Directors as appropriate.

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All documentation regarding complaints should be placed on the official complaints file:

COM 007 - 2
Community Relations
Public Reaction

Documentation regarding complaints shall be retained in accordance with the SBDC’s Retention and Disposal Schedule RD 2003034 approved on 2 November 2003.

Complaints management should be referenced in the annual report and information will include:

  • number of complaints received; and where appropriate,
  • amount of time taken to resolve the complaints; and
  • service improvements made as a result of the complaints received.


November 2009

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