3 October 2011
Implementing a Complaints Process
Dawn Grover explains how Breast Cancer Campaign implemented their new complaints handling process.
Until recently, Breast Cancer Campaign didn’t have a formal complaints process. Across the organisation, we had never formally recorded feedback, nor did we have a consistent way to manage and resolve issues.
We realised that without a complaints process in place, we weren’t giving our supporters and anyone with a stake-holding in our work a channel to come back to us and formally address anything they weren’t happy with. Plus, we weren’t giving the charity a chance to learn from what they could tell us. We knew things had to change.
Backed by our trustees, the Supporter Care Team set about instigating a new strategy that would not only channel feedback, but one that would encourage donor response. Using a combination of proactive and reactive channels and supporter ‘touch-points’ to stimulate dialogue, we sought to transform the organisational culture from one that feared complaints to one that welcomed all feedback; the good and the bad. We wanted to ensure supporter satisfaction and to meet the requirements of the trustees and the Fundraising Standards Board.
What we did
The Supporter Care Team developed a series of new processes and feedback mechanisms that would transform the charity. It was decided that all donor feedback would be channelled through the supporter care team to enable us to build a clear and informed picture about what supporters think. From there, it would be shared with the most relevant people across the whole organisation – the fundraising department of course, volunteers to the CEO, and even to some external partners.
We introduced a complaints policy which is published externally and a six-step process that would ensure complaints were not only dealt with and logged, but that appropriate action would be taken.
Breast Cancer Campaign’s complaints process:
1. Log and record the complaint on database
2. Determine and take appropriate action
3. Monitor and track
4. Report analyse, evaluate and learn
5. Change and improve
Complaints are handled by those involved in the activity that yielded the complaint, with guidance from the supporter care team, who are also responsible for monitoring and tracking complaints from receipt to response. We produce reports on a quarterly and annual basis about these complaints, sharing information about how we dealt with the situation to help enable and empower staff to be able to deal more confidently with complaints in future. This ongoing flow of information helps inform and guide the charity’s future fundraising strategy.
At Breast Cancer Campaign, we now view every supporter contact including complaints as a unique and valuable opportunity to understand and learn what the public thinks about us and to educate and hopefully inspire them to BE PART OF THE CURE.
Encouraging and sharing donor feedback across the organisation is already changing the way we do things. For example, after a handful of complaints about our doorstep collections programme from members of the public who simply don’t like this form of giving, we worked with our commercial partner BCR to pilot and then roll out a new online recycling scheme. We don’t plan to stop our door to door activity, but we now offer a more flexible supporter-driven service.
Without encouraging, listening to and monitoring complaints, this scheme may not have been introduced. It is vital that whenever a supporter or member of the public has any feedback – positive or negative - that it is seen as an opportunity to listen, engage, explain, apologise, educate, learn and act as appropriate.
- One team should have overall responsibility for recording, coordinating and managing complaints
- Effective complaint management is a combination of proactive – actively soliciting feedback through all channels and supporter ‘touch-points’, anticipating and preventing complaints and reactive – fixing problems when they happen and learning from mistakes.
- Feedback should be shared with the whole organisation – from volunteers to the CEO. There should be both a formal process of sharing feedback eg quarterly complaints report and an informal way of sharing a piece of positive feedback instantly.
“At Breast Cancer Campaign feedback matters. Only through openly embracing feedback can we know what we are doing well and where we need to improve. Feedback is vital to any learning organisation which is committed to continuous improvement and which places its supporters at the heart of what they do.”
Dawn Grover, Supporter Care Manager, Breast Cancer Campaign
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