Improving tenant and service user experience

15 November 2023

We have undertaken internal audit reviews across our clients in relation to complaints. 

This briefing provides information on the approaches and good practices identified in these audits and allows social housing providers the opportunity to incorporate good practices into their own operations. 

Since the publication of the Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code in July 2020, the clarity and guidance in the code requirements has been widely welcomed by social housing providers. And for tenants and service users, the code offers consistency in process, response times and transparency around how complaints are addressed. 

How a complaint is handled and resolved makes a huge difference to tenant and service user satisfaction. Whether a simple misunderstanding or a more complex issue, complaints should be addressed effectively and efficiently. It’s vital that there is a clear route for tenants to raise their concerns, as any delay could result in further poor service delivery and preventable damage. 

Stages to raise a concern as detailed in the Housing Ombudsmen Complaint Handling Code:

 acknowledge, respond, escalate

Key findings

We reviewed 100 audits of complaints, including handling, management, lessons learnt and incidents. We also undertook several audits focussing on positive feedback; ‘complaints and compliments’.

The examples of good practice from our audits which are consistent with the requirements of the Complaint Handling Code are summarised below. 

  • A clear and consistent complaint handling process (defined in a policy) which includes timescales for responding and escalation.
  • Accessibility and awareness of the policy internally and externally with service users via the organisations website, but also across social media platforms.
  • Ensuring that all correspondence regarding a complaint is centrally held, so that all details can be easily obtained in the event of the member of staff managing the complaint being absent.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities with a dedicated team in place providing oversight and to assign a lead from the organisation to investigate and respond to the tenant/service user.
  • Consider the data that is requested. For example, asking for the location or a postcode could provide useful insight as to whether there is an issue or training need with a particular team or department.
  • Having an overall executive lead for complaints. Some organisations also have an assigned non-executive lead too.
  • Issuing a resolution letter to complainants and closing the complaint in a timely manner.

To find out more about the common pitfalls, key initiatives and steps to introduce positive change, download the report