Public organisations can generate a significant return on investment when complaints are managed effectively according to this report exploring the application and effectiveness of complaints management in government organisations in Australia.

The research highlighted that these organisations need to take account of social costs and benefits, as well as pecuniary costs and benefits in assessing the effectiveness of their complaints management practices.

This research, which analysed the complaint practices of three public sector organisations, is an extension of research completed in 2018, which provided guidance on measuring the ROI of effective complaints management for private organisations. The report noted that while customers usually have the option of exiting from their commercial relationships with private sector organisations, this is typically not possible when a public sector organisation is involved.

The research involved reviewing de-identified complaints data from the three public organisations, as well as focus groups and in-depth interviews with complaints staff and complainants. From this work, an algorithm was produced, which included providing monetary valuations of social benefits and costs. Hypothetical scenarios were then used to compute the ROI of effective complaint management, with the help of the data provided by the organisations and estimates derived from previous research. Interviews with complainants highlighted the onus placed on perceived fairness and respect in the complainant’s evaluation of post-complaint satisfaction, and reiterated the need to consider the social implications of effective complaint management.

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