Complaints and Dispute Resolution Policy

This policy (PCY225) outlines our commitment to providing customers with an accessible, fair and consistent process for managing complaints.

Policy statement

We have a formal complaint handling process that enables customers to express any dissatisfaction with the products and services we provide.

We respect our customer’s right to disagree with us, and view complaints as a valuable source of information for driving policy reform and process improvement.

Purpose

The purpose of this Policy is to promote a corporate culture whereby we:

  • provide our customers with an accessible, fair and consistent process for managing their complaints
  • view complaints as a valuable source of information about our performance, and use this to drive policy reform and process improvement
  • satisfy the requirements of our Operating Licence and meet all our regulatory and corporate performance targets.

Scope

This Policy applies to:

  • all complaints from external customers, other than the types of contacts specifically excluded in Corporate Standard S115
  • all employees, contractors and agents who have any interaction with our external customers.

Customer: Any person or entity provided with the Corporation’s products and/or services.

Complaint: An expression of dissatisfaction made to an organisation, relating to its products, or the complaints-handling process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected.

Initial authorised point of contact: The first point of contact within a Branch / Region with the delegated authority and responsibility to receive, investigate and respond to customer enquiries and complaints. This includes the Corporation’s contractors and agents.

The principal driver for this Policy is the mandatory requirement as part of the Water Service Act 2012 (Section 65), Water Services Code of Conduct (Customer Service Standards) 2013, Water Services Regulations 2013 (Section 9) and in our Operating Licence (Schedule 2) to maintain a formal complaints management process.

Additionally, we recognise that legitimate and valuable business improvements can be achieved by using complaints to identify customer concerns about the quality and delivery of our products and services.

This Policy and any associated Standards and Guidelines have been developed to enable compliance with all our legal obligations. 

The implications if we fail to meet these obligations include:

  • an increase in the number of complaints, particularly second and subsequent complaints
  • an increase in the number of complaints to our regulator
  • damage to our reputation
  • additional costs in managing complaints
  • cancellation of our Operating Licence.

We have always respected the right of customers to complain about our products and services, a position that was confirmed in a customer service visioning project in the mid 1990’s.

A requirement of our Operating Licence is that we will maintain a formal process for the management of complaints.  This became the primary area of focus in the development of our Customer Service Information System (GRANGE), with a complaint management module being the first function made available to users, in 1997.

Since that time, we have proactively developed a number of strategies to help us manage complaints better, including the recording of complaints as statistics, establishing a Complaints and Correspondence Coordinator network, introducing a process to give customers an automatic right-of-referral, and managing a qualitative audit program to assess our ongoing performance.

We respect the right of customers to complain about our products and services, and support that right by providing an accessible, fair and friendly process for the lodgement and management of complaints. We will:

  • ensure that our staff understand our complaints management process and are adequately trained to deal with customer complaints
  • assume ownership of complaints at the “initial authorised point of contact”, and act as the customer’s advocate throughout the complaint process
  • attempt to resolve a complaint, or at least agree an action plan for resolution, with the customer at the first point of contact
  • make every effort to resolve the complaint within the Corporation
  • explain corporate policy in plain English, and ensure that customers have access to all relevant information supporting our decision
  • refer complaints to external mediation and resolution services as a last resort.

We will use complaints in a positive way to help drive policy and process improvements, and as opportunities to repair relationships with aggrieved customers. We will:

  • review and analyse complaint information on an ongoing basis, as an input to policy reform and process improvement
  • regularly review our complaint management process to ensure its effectiveness and efficiency.

Our Policy and Compliance Manager is the custodian of our complaints management process. A key part of this role is to ensure that:

  • employees, contractors and agents are adequately trained to effectively implement this Policy
  • our systems enable the accurate and timely recording, assignment, tracking and  reporting of customer complaints
  • we maintain a network of Complaints and Correspondence Coordinators across all organisational units and throughout all our operational licence areas
  • our business management system is maintained with current versions of all related policies, standards, guidelines, procedures and work instructions, and that staff are advised when changes are made.

Key compliance references

Corporate references

  • Service Customer Process Story
  • PCY232 Customer Service
  • PCY295 Access and Inclusion
  • S115 Processing External Customer Contacts
  • Customer & service commitments