Housing Series: Confident complaint handling skills – 7 key questions to ask


Housing Series: Confident complaint handling skills – 7 key questions to ask

24 June, 2022

Housing Sector

Following on from the fifteen questions we invited you to consider about your people’s readiness to excel against the Housing Ombudsman’s updated Complaint Handling Code, let’s take a moment to focus in on how they feel about dealing specifically with complaints when they arise.  (Please click here if you’ve yet to request a copy of ’15 questions to help you excel’.)

We know from working with multiple customers within social housing that your many highly competent and capable people are facing already high demands. Our experience is that they are motivated to make a significant contribution and they are facing an ever-challenging environment shaped by pressures on residents, the economy, market forces, delays, resource challenges and backlogs. Many report to us that they consider themselves to be coping or surviving, doing the best they can, rather than managing well or thriving at work.

There are some tightly targeted aspects you can consider about the many diligent and committed individuals within your organisation who are faced with feedback and being alert to complaints.

The questions to consider

Let’s take a moment to imagine a situation where a customer has a significant complaint that they need to raise with your company which will require a robust and focused response.

  1. As that complaint is received either by the contact centre, on social media or in a face-to-face situation, what do you believe would be the immediate reaction or response from your people, what do you think you would see or hear?
  2. Are they in a good place and strongly positioned to respond confidently and positively, or do you see stress or maybe overwhelm as they encounter the feedback or complaint?
  3. Do you witness hesitance and uncertainty in how to handle that complaint; what words do they use… are they asking the right questions… do you see or hear them express an ability to take ownership and responsibility, and are they able to respond with confidence?
  4. What do you hear them saying about customers who are giving feedback or complaining? Is it respectful and empathetic towards the customer and the situation, or do they view complaints as a nuisance, unjustified or even a threat?
  5. Do people in your organisation have confidence and know when to escalate issues or ask for help if they are unsure of the best way forward?
  6. When you review more complex or escalated complaints do you see points along the timeline where intervention could have been taken to address the issue if those dealing with the situation had more empowerment, confidence or skill?
  7. Do you see your people coming forward with ideas and solutions on how to fix challenges and problems, or do they feel powerless to do anything meaningful?

Understanding the current mindset of your people and their thoughts and feelings towards handling complaints as well as their skill level to do so, is important to identify the development and tools they need to excel in their service.

As we consider the self-talk of individual service-givers in the moment of receiving a complaint, it’s vital that each one can feel supported and certain that the organisation will do what is necessary to fix the situation. They need to be confident in their ability to respond straightaway with the right words and swift action to demonstrate to the customer that their feedback is being taken seriously.

One tool from MGI’s Customer Service Toolkit will immediately empower your people with greater confidence and capability to respond to any complaint, criticism or feedback. We call it Glad > Sure > Sorry.  It is a very simple and powerful tool that when used authentically truly empowers and increases ability to respond in any feedback situations.

Click here for a copy of our 1-page summary of this go-to tool for complaints and emails.

Being equipped with the right skills and resources will result in a workforce that is empowered with confidence and capability, safe in the knowledge that they have what it takes to deliver a positive response.

Explore more about our results