Complaint & Compliments Policy
This document sets out Bristow & Sutor’s policy on dealing with compliments and complaints. Through our Complaints and Compliments Policy we will strive to resolve complaints speedily, effectively, and fairly.
What is a compliment?
A compliment is an expression of praise, admiration, or congratulation, however and by whoever made, about the standard of service and/or action/s by the firm or our staff.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is deemed as a communication received about dissatisfaction with our service or staff. It is justified if there has been an appreciable variation from normal legal procedure, which has caused significant inconvenience or hardship. A complaint is valid:
- When we have failed to do something, we agreed to do.
- When we have done something wrong.
- When we have treated a complainant unfairly or rudely.
- When we fail to provide information.
- When the complainant is concerned with the quality of the service we provide.
We are always glad to hear from clients and customers who are satisfied with our services. Compliments are recorded and, where appropriate, acknowledged within reasonable timescales. Where a compliment is received in writing, the Compliance Officer will send a copy of the compliment to the relevant Head of Department to provide feedback.
The complaints process has three stages (1, 2 and 3). Our aim is to resolve problems at
Stage 1, as close to their source as possible.
Stage 1 – Compliance Team
To ensure that the complaint is fully investigated we ask that all available information is provided to aid a comprehensive response.
The complaint is reviewed by the Compliance Officer who will conduct a full investigation, with the applicable Line Manager and the staff member, where relevant. If applicable, processes and procedures will be examined.
The complaint details are entered into our Complaint Database, which will allocate a unique reference number that will be given to the complaint.
Within 1 working day of receipt of a complaint, an acknowledgement will be sent to the complainant by the Compliance Officer. A full response will be sent to the complainant within 10 workings days except where a client has different response times, with details of the investigation and resolution. Creditors with longer timescales include TfL for whom responses must be sent within 28 days.
Emphasis is placed on providing an accurate and detailed response which aims to resolve the issue. However, if a complainant indicates their dissatisfaction with the response it may be escalated to Stage 2.
Stage 2 – Senior Compliance Officer
Where the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, the complaint will be escalated to the Senior Compliance Officer, overseen by the Technical Manager, who will conduct a further review of the complaint, proceedings, and outcome. An acknowledgement will be sent within 1 working day and a full response within 10 working days, which will detail our enquiries and resolution.
Emphasis is placed on providing an accurate and detailed response which aims to resolve the issue. However, if a complainant indicates their dissatisfaction with the response it may be escalated to Stage 3.
Stage 3 – Chief Executive Officer
Where a complaint has been fully investigated but the complainant is still not satisfied, a final appeal can be made to our CEO (Chief Executive Officer). This appeal must be received in writing, together with a copy of previous correspondence.
An acknowledgement will be sent within 1 working day and a full response within 10 working days, which will detail our enquiries and resolution.
The CEO may refer the matter to the independent advisory panel where he believes this will help resolve the complaint.
If the complainant is still unhappy after this final stage, then they will be signposted to the local authority client.
4. Independent Regulation
Bristow & Sutor support the debt advice sectors call for an independent regulator to promote best practice and ensure all customers are dealt with professionally and in line with the regulations.
Therefore, we have our own independent advisory panel who will provide an independent opinion on any complaints received; review our procedures and governance and help us utilise the latest developments and innovation for dealing with vulnerable debtors.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the internal investigation, and he/she has exhausted the company procedure, then they will be referred to the local authority client which instructed us. NB: our trade body, The Civil Enforcement Association no longer consider complaints regarding local authority debts.
Complaints are analysed monthly and reported quarterly to management to decide if there are any actions that can be taken to prevent the occurrence of similar complaints. Any further preventive action determined will be instigated and monitored by the Health & Safety / Quality Officer.
6. Dealing with persistent complaints
- There are a small number of customers who, for whatever reason, fall within the category of persistent or excessively persistent complainants in that they persist unreasonably with their complaints, or make complaints to make life difficult for the company rather than genuinely to resolve a specific grievance.
- This Policy is to ensure that persistent and excessively persistent complainants are dealt with fairly, honestly, and properly whilst also ensuring that staff members and the company does not suffer any undeserved detriment.
- A persistent complainant is a person who, in complaining about issues, displays behaviour/actions which are obsessive, harassing, and repetitious. This may involve making serial complaints about different matters or continuing to raise the same or similar matters over and over again even though a reasonable explanation has been given.
- Once the Compliance Officer forms the view that they are dealing with a persistent complainant, the matter will be referred to the Technical Manager as soon as possible. The Technical Manager will decide in consultation with the Compliance Officer involved whether an alternative way of dealing with the customer is required. They have the discretion to deal with these as they think best and may consult with the Chief Executive Officer to agree a course of action about future responses. It should, however, be remembered that habitual complainers may still make complaints which are fully justified.
7. Anonymous complaints
Anonymous complaints will be investigated as far as possible and a record of the complaint will be kept in accordance with normal procedure. If it is deemed that the complaint is simply malicious; the Technical Manager will decide in consultation with the Compliance Officer, whether an alternative way of dealing with the complaint is required.
Complaints made to the company will be treated in confidence. Customers who make their complaints public in the media may forfeit their right to anonymity.