Next week (19 October 2022), Cabinet members will discuss the 2021-22 Annual Customer Complaints and Compliments Report, which provides an overview of what people had to say about our services, their experiences, and expectations between April 2021 and March 2022.
Feedback is vital as it helps us learn and do better in the future. We’re disappointed that the annual report has highlighted an increase in complaints. However, we’re pleased that people are telling us when we’ve done a good job and when they think that we can do better. You can continue to provide your feedback on our website at barnsley.gov.uk, by phone or write to us.
Some of the key highlights from the report, include:
- We’ve seen an increase in the number of complaints received - 712 compared to 320 recorded last year. However, 211 complaints were either withdrawn by the customer, or they no longer wished to engage with the process bringing the total complaints resolved to 501.
- However, we’ve seen continued good performance relating to the delivery of the complaints process, with 97% responded to within the agreed timescale. We’ll continue to strive to maintain and improve upon this performance area.
- We saw a slight drop in the number of compliments we received - 414 compared to 475 last year.
- We’re upholding most of the complaints we received (261 complaints upheld and 123 partially upheld) and agreed that there had been a degree of fault in our actions, which gave course to the complaint being made.
It’s important that we understand the reasons why an increase in complaints has been seen during 2021-22, which may be due to:
- Following our response to support residents and businesses during the pandemic, this increased demand on our resources, the number of calls we received, and people’s waiting times. We’re still feeling the impact on our workloads and resources since the pandemic.
- Complaints can often be complex and include actions taken by our partners and other providers where the council can influence practice but not always control.
- Our role as a council may have changed for people during the pandemic, with more people engaging with us than we have had previously.
- Customers’ expectations or perceptions of services may not be possible to meet which is giving rise to them making a complaint.
- Longer-term solutions identified as service improvements are not able to be carried out yet or are not yet part of day-to-day service delivery.
Regardless of the reason for an increase in complaints, we’ll always work hard to understand the feedback and improve our services. Examples of the learning we’re working towards, include:
- Looking at the different types of social care assessments that we do and providing clarity on these and how they link to legislation and people’s eligibility to access various levels of care. We’ll do this by looking at our local offer.
- Improving communication between departments where road defects reports are received, which identify that a road is unadopted but is owned by the council.
- We’ve reviewed our financial services phone system and made changes to make it easier to use and provide a better customer experience.
- Reviewing our fly-tipping reporting processes and improving the information available on the online fly-tipping status update map to show the progress status of each report.
- Identified some changes to the consultation and engagement process with affected residents.
- Looking at how we receive information to make sure that we provide timely feedback where bin collections have been missed.
Cllr Alan Gardiner, Cabinet Spokesperson for Core Services, said: “We’ve achieved so many great things this past year, but we need to learn from complaints and improve our services. It’s our opportunity to get things right.
“I want to reassure you that we’re listening to what our residents are telling us. We aim to manage your expectations and demands but also recognise the opportunities this presents to continuously improve our services. Therefore, we want to make sure that you can provide us with this information and know how to do this. By working together to reach a fair and swift resolution, where putting it right is at the heart of what we always consider.
“We’ve recently introduced an additional resource into the team who manage our complaints function to ensure that we continue to prioritise complaints, detect early warning signs of problems, and offer opportunities to improve service delivery.
"We’ll use this report as part of our learning and development to explore how we can improve ways of working to best support our residents.”
You can read the Annual Complaints and Compliments Report - April 2021 to March 2022 on our website.