Effective Complaint Handling

What it is

A one-day skills course in investigating complaints. The course is delivered by an experienced complaint handler who has practical expertise in managing complaints. Participants can draw on  knowledge gained from our experience of more than four decades of investigating complaints.

Who it is for

It is for local authority staff whose jobs involve handling complaints in the higher stages of the authority’s complaints procedures, after the informal stage and up to the point of deciding the complaint. It is a course for managers, team leaders, departmental and corporate complaints officers. 

What it does

By the end of the course learners will be able to:

  • list five things that are important to people when they complain
  • describe the complaint handling process
  • accurately identify, define and summarise complaints
  • list five sources of evidence useful for investigations
  • investigate a complaint and reach evidence-based conclusions
  • identify appropriate and proportionate remedies for injustice
  • write a comprehensive decision letter/report
  • explain how complaints can be used to drive service improvements

How it is done

The style is interactive, using a variety of activities and materials.
The first part of the day deals with good customer care, using participants' own experiences and looking at relevant research.

Most of the day is centred around a case study based on a real complaint to us. Participants will be asked to use their own expertise as well as drawing on that of the presenter to: 

  • define the complaint
  • plan the investigation
  • come to a reasoned and justifiable view about the complaint
  • consider appropriate remedies
  • make and communicate decisions

The trainer shares with participants our unique experience and knowledge, gained over some 40 years of dealing with complaints, of how to go about putting things right for a complainant when the authority has been at fault. S/he also explores with participants problems which commonly affect the complaint process, and ways of keeping the investigation on track in the face of them. 

At each point in the process the trainer offers guidance and tips on applying the Ombudsman’s principles of good practice in investigating complaints.


Cost: £1,500 for 18 people 
Based on authority providing venue and refreshments
Duration: 10am - 4pm

One-day course for a group of up to 18, with one trainer: £1,500.

No extra charge is made for trainer’s travel and expenses. Prices assume you will supply the venue and refreshments for the course.

Authorities with fewer than 18 staff to put forward for training may wish to get together with neighbouring authorities to hold a regional Ombudsman training event, and so share the costs.