As Service NSW is an agency within the NSW Department of Customer Service (DCS) cluster, the Service NSW Complaints Management Policy and approach to handling complaints aligns with the DCS Complaints Management Policy.
Service NSW fosters a culture that is open to complaints and feedback from customers and community.
We promote and encourage complaints and respond to them fairly and promptly to ensure customers feel heard, respected and know that their issues are taken seriously.
We recognise that this will:
- improve customer service and experience
- improve service delivery and systems
- strengthen relationships, and
- identify problems.
The mindset and satisfaction of our customers who interact with us will be strongly influenced by their perception of the fairness of procedures we use to handle complaints.
This includes our interactions with customers and others who make complaints, and the information we provide them about the process, progress and outcome/s of their complaint.
By appropriately handling complaints about our services, products, employees, as well as about our complaint handling process, we will be protecting our good reputation as well as promoting general trust in government.
This policy applies to all Service NSW employees receiving or managing complaints from the public made to, or about, us regarding our services, our employees, and our complaint handling process.
This SNSW policy should be considered in conjunction with the following:
- Report Wrongdoing and Public Interest Disclosures (PID) Policy
- Code of Ethics and Conduct
- Conflicts of Interest Policy
- DCS Records Management Policy
- Managing Conflicts of Interest
- Information and Data Governance Framework
- DCS Privacy Management Plan
- DCS Privacy Management Framework
- Fraud and Corruption Control Policy
This policy is intended to ensure that Service NSW handles complaints fairly, efficiently, and effectively.
Our complaint management system is intended to:
- enable us to respond to complaints in a timely, customer focused, and cost-effective manner
- build and maintain confidence and trust in NSW public service, and
- provide information that can be used by us to deliver improvements in our services, systems, employees capabilities, and our complaint handling process.
This policy provides guidance to our employees and those who wish to make a complaint on the key principles and concepts of our complaint management system.
Who needs to comply with this policy
This policy applies to all employees and enables them to understand what constitutes complaints/feedback, how we manage and respond to complaints. This includes:
- all employees, including managers and supervisors, senior executives, whether ongoing, temporary, casual or cadets, trainees and apprenticeships
- all contractors and agency workers performing work for or on behalf of Service NSW
- any employee of another public sector agency on secondment to Service NSW
- work experience students and volunteers.
|Complaint||Expression of dissatisfaction made to or about us, related to our services, employees, or the handling of a complaint where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required.|
|Service request||The definition of a service request will vary depending on core functions being delivered by Service NSW. However, it is likely to include:
|Feedback||Opinions, comments and expressions of interest or concern, made directly or indirectly, explicitly, or implicitly, to or about us, about our services or complaint handling where a response is not necessarily expected or required.|
|Complaint management system||All policies, procedures, practices, employees, hardware, and software used by us in the management of complaints.|
|Customer||A customer for the purpose of this document is deemed to be either a member of the public, a business, a community organisation, other government agency, a Member of Parliament or a Minister.|
|Employee||Our staff, contractors, consultants, government agencies, politicians, volunteers, public officials, and anyone who is engaged with Service NSW to undertake business for or with Service NSW.|
|Internal review||With reference to complaint handling, internal review is a process that examines the outcome of a complaint which has been determined by the business unit. Members of the public who are dissatisfied with a complaint outcome can seek an internal review of that outcome. To demonstrate impartiality, another officer (usually more senior) within the same agency, who was not involved in the original handling of the complaint, undertakes the review.|
|Privacy laws||Refers to the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998.|
|Procedure||A statement or instruction that sets out how our policies will be implemented and by whom.|
|Public Interest Disclosure||A report about wrongdoing made by a public official in NSW that meets the requirements of the Public Interests Disclosures Act 1994.|
|Enquiry||Enquiry may include routine questions about Service NSW’s business, requests for provision of services and assistance, request for explanation of policies, procedures and decisions.|
Key roles and responsibilities
Service NSW expects employees at all levels to be committed to fair, effective, and efficient complaint handling in line with the NSW Government Customer Commitments, as well as the Service NSW values.
Collectively, these commitments and values outline our promise to customers on what they can expect when receiving all NSW Government services, in addition, the following NSW Ombudsman commitments will apply specifically when handling complaints:
- respectful treatment
- information and accessibility
- good communication
- taking ownership
To best serve our customers, these commitments direct our employees to have clear processes and procedures. The Service NSW Complaints Handling Guide and Procedures provide information and step-by-step actions for our employees to take when receiving a customer complaint at Service NSW.
The table below outlines roles and responsibilities and the way the responsibility is implemented in the context of managing and handling complaints.
Promote a culture that values complaints and their effective resolution
|Executive Leadership Team (ELT)
Promote a culture that values complaints and their effective resolution
|Directors and Managers
Promote a culture that values complaints and their effective resolution and ensure this policy and associated procedures are understood and complied with as required.
|Service NSW Audit and Risk Committee
Maintain oversight of Service NSW complaints management framework
|Privacy and Compliance Senior Advisor
Ensure that Service NSW complaints policy and framework complies with relevant legislation, regulations, standards and codes.
|Customer resolution – teams and other employees whose duties involve complaints handling
Demonstrate exemplary complaint handling practices, act as customer advocate
Understand and comply with Service NSW’s complaint handling practices
We adhere to guidelines for effective complaint management that align with industry best practices.
Our complaints handling guiding principles are:
- facilitate – submitting a complaint must be easy
- systemise – proactively manage the handling of complaints
- collaborate – engage involved parties to resolve the complaint
- accountability – continuously learn and improve.
Facilitate – submitting a complaint must be easy
We are committed to seeking and receiving feedback and complaints about our services, systems, practices, procedures, products and complaint handling process.
Any concerns raised in feedback or complaints will be dealt with within a reasonable time frame.
People making complaints will be:
- provided with information about our complaint handling process
- provided with multiple and accessible ways to make complaints
- listened to, treated with respect by employees and actively involved in the complaint
- process where possible and appropriate
- communicated with through their preferred method and where required, through their preferred representative and
- provided with reasons for our decision/s and any options for review.
We actively support customers to register their complaint. This means we promote our complaints channels and information and ensure they are easily understood and accessible, particularly for people who require assistance.
No detriment to people making complaints
People making complaints will not be adversely affected because a complaint has been made by them or on their behalf.
We accept anonymous complaints and will carry out an investigation of the issues raised where there is enough information provided to enable Service NSW to action any issues arising from the complaint.
An anonymous complaint may mean that we won’t be able to communicate the resolution to the specific customer making the complaint, but it can still help us improve our services, systems, practices, procedures, products and complaint handling processes.
We will ensure that
- information about how and where complaints may be made to or about us is well publicised
- our systems to manage complaints are easily understood and accessible to everyone, particularly people who may require assistance.
If a customer prefers or requires another person or organisation to assist or represent them in the making and/or resolution of their complaint, we will communicate with them through their representative if this is their wish.
Anyone may represent a person wishing to make a complaint with their consent (e.g. advocate, family member, legal or community representative, Member of Parliament, another organisation).
Complaining to us is free.
Systemise – proactively manage the handling of complaints
Where possible, complaints will be resolved at first contact with Service NSW.
Our commitment is that we will acknowledge receipt of a complaint within four (4) working days regardless of the channel the customer has used to register their complaint.
We will assess and prioritise complaints in accordance with the urgency and/or seriousness of the issues raised. As soon as an immediate risk to safety or security is identified, the matter will be escalated appropriately.
We are committed to managing people’s expectations, and where appropriate will inform them during initial contact, of the following:
- the complaints process
- the expected time frames for our actions
- the progress of the complaint and reasons for any delay
- their likely involvement in the process, and
- the possible or likely outcome of their complaint.
We will advise people when we are unable to deal with any part of their complaint as soon as it has been identified and provide advice about where such issues and/or complaints may be directed (if known and appropriate).
We are committed to communicating the resolution to the person making the complaint within 20 working days of receipt of their complaint.
Where appropriate we will advise the complainant if we are unable to meet our target time frames for responding to their complaint as soon as it has been identified.
Objectivity and fairness
We will address each complaint with integrity and in an equitable, objective, and unbiased manner.
Where a complaint is made in relation to a specific employee, we will ensure the person handling the complaint is a different person to the employee whose conduct or service is the subject of complaint.
Conflicts of interests, whether actual or perceived, will be managed responsibly. In particular, internal reviews of how a complaint was managed will be conducted by a person other than the original decision maker.
- adopt flexible approaches to service delivery and problem solving to enhance accessibility for people making complaints and/or their representatives
- assess each complaint on its merits and involve people making complaints and/or their representative in the process as far as possible.
We will protect the identity of people making complaints where this is practical and appropriate.
Personal information that identifies individuals will only be disclosed or used by Service NSW to enable us to respond to or resolve the complaint as permitted under the relevant privacy laws.
Collaborate – engage involved parties to resolve the complaint
Wherever possible, we will manage a complaint from receipt to resolution. However in some cases there may be a need to involve another agency or refer the complaint to another agency for full or partial response.
Complaints about other agencies
Any complaint we receive regarding another Government agency’s services, systems, practices, procedures, products and complaint handling process may be forwarded to that agency for their action.
Any element of a complaint related to Service NSW will be responded to or resolved directly by Service NSW.
If a complaint is referred to another agency in part or in full, we will notify the customer of its transfer where possible and appropriate.
If the customer has contacted us via telephone, we will endeavour to transfer the call to the relevant agency or provide that agency's contact details.
Complaints involving multiple agencies
Where a complaint received by Service NSW involves multiple government agencies, Service NSW will take the lead to coordinate a response, if appropriate, and inform the complainant and/or their representation.
Service NSW delivers programs and services on behalf of other agencies and complaints about other agencies’ programs or policies may not be able to be resolved by SNSW.
Subject to privacy and confidentiality considerations, communication and information sharing between the parties will also be organised to facilitate a timely response to the complaint.
Where a complaint involves multiple areas within Service NSW, responsibility for communicating with the person making the complaint and/or their representative will be coordinated by the team managing the complaint.
Where our services are contracted out, we expect contracted service providers to have an accessible and comprehensive complaint management system. We take complaints not only about the actions of our employees but also about the actions of our service providers.
Complaints involving multiple parties
When multiple parties from a common group or organisation raise similar complaints about a related service, system, practice, procedure, product or complaint handling process, we will aim to arrange to communicate with a single representative of the group.
In cases where a complaint involves (potential) fraud and requires investigation, Service NSW will follow the relevant fraud escalation path. When fraud investigation is required, it may not be possible to respond and handle related complaints within our target time frames.
Empowerment of employees
All employees managing complaints are empowered to implement our complaint management system as relevant to their role and responsibilities.
Employees are encouraged to provide feedback on the effectiveness and efficiency of all aspects of our complaint management system.
Managing unreasonable conduct by people making complaints
We are committed to being accessible and responsive to all people who approach us with feedback or complaints. At the same time our success depends on:
- our ability to do our work and perform our functions in the most effective and efficient way possible
- the health, safety, and security of our employees, and
- our ability to allocate our resources fairly across all the complaints we receive.
When people behave unreasonably in their dealings with us, their conduct can significantly affect the progress and efficiency of our work. As a result, we will take proactive and decisive action to manage any conduct that negatively and unreasonably affects us and will support our employees to do the same in accordance with this policy and guidelines set by the NSW Ombudsman.
For further information on managing unreasonable conduct by people making complaints please see the NSW Ombudsman’s Managing unreasonable conduct by complainants: model policy (July 2022).
Accountability – continuously learn and improve
Analysis and evaluation of complaints
We will ensure that complaints are recorded in a systematic way so that information can be easily retrieved for de-identified reporting and analysis.
Regular reports will advise:
- the number of complaints received
- thematic outcomes of complaints, including matters resolved internally
- issues arising from complaints and impacts to customer experience
- systemic issues identified, and
- the number of requests we receive for internal and/or external review of our complaint handling process.
Regular analysis of these reports will be undertaken to monitor trends, measure the quality of our customer service, and make improvements.
The de-identified reports and their analysis will be provided to Service NSW’s Chief Executive Officer and senior management for review, as well as other audit and risk related committees as appropriate.
Monitoring of the complaint management system
We will continually monitor our complaint management system to:
- ensure its effectiveness in responding to and resolving complaints, and
- identify and correct deficiencies in the operation of the system.
Monitoring may include the use of audits, complaint satisfaction surveys and alerts.
We are committed to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our complaint management system. To this end, we will:
- support the making and appropriate resolution of complaints
- implement best practices in complaint handling
- recognise and reward exemplary complaint handling by employees
- regularly review the complaints management system and complaint data
- implement appropriate system changes arising out of our analysis of complaints data and continual monitoring of the system, and
- improve service design across Service NSW programs and BAU products and services.
Complaint management system
When responding to complaints, employees should act in accordance with our complaint handling procedures as well as any other internal documents providing guidance on the management of complaints. Employees should also consider any relevant legislation and/or regulations when responding to complaints and feedback.
The key stages in our complaint management system are set out below.
Receipt of complaints
Unless the complaint has been resolved at the outset, we will record the complaint and its supporting information. We will also assign a unique identifier to the complaint file.
The record of the complaint will document:
- the contact information of the person making a complaint
- issues raised by the person making a complaint and the outcome/s they want
- any other relevant information, and
- any additional support the person making a complaint requires.
Where customer complaints are received
|Service NSW website||Contact Us page submission form|
|RMS website||Contact Us page submission form|
|Direct email@example.com and other customer-facing email addresses triaged by Middle Office|
Received at Support Office
|Telephone||Contact Centre on 13 77 88 Monday to Friday between 7am and 7pm (Sydney time) or if overseas, call +61 2 8894 1555.|
|Service Centre notifications||Emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Social media messages||In liaison with the NSW Department of Customer Service Social Media team
Emailed to email@example.com
|External parties||Emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org (for example, NSW Ombudsman)|
|Partner agencies||Emailed to email@example.com (for example, Births, Deaths and Marriages, Transport for NSW|
|Executive Office (Executive Officer, Service Delivery)||Transfer and referral to CRT for resolution
Emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
|Ministerial (MaPS)||Received through the Minister's office and assigned via eApprovals. Complex cases referred to CRT for advice/resolution via eApprovals.|
Acknowledgement of complaints
We will acknowledge receipt of each complaint promptly and within four business days as far as practicable.
Consideration will be given to the most appropriate medium (for example, by email or letter) for communicating with the person making a complaint.
Assessment and addressing of complaints
After acknowledging receipt of the complaint, we will confirm whether the issue/s raised in the complaint is/are within our control. We will also consider the outcome/s sought by the person making a complaint and, where there is more than one issue raised, determine whether each issue needs to be separately addressed.
When determining how a complaint will be managed, we will consider:
- how serious, complicated, or urgent the complaint is
- whether the complaint raises concerns about people’s health and safety
- how the person making the complaint is affected
- the risks involved if resolution of the complaint is delayed, and
- whether a resolution requires the involvement of other organisations.
To address a complaint, we may:
- give the person making a complaint information or an explanation
- gather information from the product, person, or area that the complaint is about, and
- investigate the claims made in the complaint.
Our priority is to respond to complaints within 20 business days unless it involves a complex matter or requires specialist investigation in which case the customer will be kept updated on the progress of their complaint.
Providing reasons for decisions
Following consideration of the complaint and any investigation into the issues raised, we will contact the customer making the complaint and advise them where practical, of:
- the outcome of the complaint and any action we took
- the reason/s for our decision
- the remedy or resolution/s that we have proposed or put in place, and
- where applicable any options for review that may be available to the complainant, such as an internal review, external review, or appeal.
Providing options for review
Our approach to resolving complaints is flexible and resourceful and engages senior leaders with delegation to resolve the complaint, as required. We aim to resolve complaints as soon as possible and when the complaint is first made.
Where a person making a complaint is dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint, they may seek an internal or external review of our decision.
Internal review of complaints will be independent, it will be performed by a staff member not involved with the original investigation and resolution of the complaint.
An external review can be sought with the NSW Ombudsman.
Complaint close and recordkeeping
At Service NSW we have appropriate record keeping policies and procedures in place and implemented to ensure that adequate records are made and retained about the receipt, handling and outcomes of complaints.
To undertake effective complaint analysis, we make and retain good records. We will keep comprehensive records about:
- how we managed the complaint
- the outcome/s of the complaint (including whether it, or any aspect of it, was substantiated, any recommendations made to address problems identified, and any decisions made on those recommendations), and
- any outstanding actions that need to be followed up.
We will ensure that outcomes are properly implemented, monitored, and reported to senior management.
References and further guidance
Additional and related information can be found at: