Last reviewed: July 2023
Overall responsibility for implementation: Chief Executive
Responsibility for maintenance: Director of Finance & Operations
Next review date: July 2024
The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is committed to delivering a good service to our clients and beneficiaries. Complaints provide opportunities to understand how clients and beneficiaries experience our services and how we might improve them. We seek to handle any complaints received in a prompt, courteous and helpful manner.
CSE’s complaints handling is based on four key principles:
- Good record-keeping of our activities and correspondence, both in our day-to-day business practices and during the processing of complaints.
- Good communication with our clients and beneficiaries, keeping them informed during any complaints handling, and transparency in presenting our complaints handling procedures.
- Fair, consistent, prompt and thorough investigation of any complaints that arise.
- Cooperation with others, including our clients, partners, supply chain and the relevant regulatory and ombudsman services, to ensure that complaints are dealt with effectively.
Our complaints policy is reviewed annually. Where CSE is brokering a purchase by a customer or client, details are provided at or soon after point of sale. We routinely seek customer feedback to encourage customers to share their experiences, whether positive or negative.
What is an eligible complaint?
An eligible complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about a service delivered or subcontracted by CSE. Complaints can take many forms and may not be explicitly expressed by the customer or client as a complaint. We treat any of the following incidents as complaints:
- Expression of dissatisfaction where the complainant requests the escalation of their complaint to a senior member of staff, e.g. the relevant Director of Team or Chief Executive.
- Expression of dissatisfaction where the complainant makes it clear that they require action to be taken that goes beyond a verbal apology.
- Any suggestion of serious misconduct, fraud, risks to health or the safety or persons or property or clear breaches of process, irrespective of whether the customer wishes to formally complain.
We encourage staff to treat any expression of dissatisfaction with a service by a client or customer as a source of information about the quality of our service and an opportunity to make improvements.
Complaints from service users about processes or criteria that are stipulated by Government, clients or funders will not be processed as a complaint by CSE; we will direct customers to an appropriate recipient for their complaint where possible. Recurring issues will be raised by CSE with the client funder.
Where a complaint received by CSE is ineligible to be handled by CSE, we will notify the complainant in writing.
Who can complain?
We will consider complaints from a person or organisation who has been directly or indirectly adversely affected by the activities or attitudes of CSE’s staff, trustees, volunteers or subcontractors acting in their capacity as a CSE representative.
CSE regularly works with vulnerable audiences, such as younger and older people, those with a physical disability or those who do not speak English as a first language.
We are committed to providing a helpful service to ensure that nobody is excluded from accessing our complaints procedure, such as:
- Accepting verbal, electronic and written complaints.
- Accepting complaints made on behalf of a vulnerable person, such as from a family member, carer or professional worker.
- Making use of translators in our projects targeting communities that do not speak English, who are able to assist in the event of complaints from people with a limited use of English.
- Providing large font correspondence if requested by customers with a visual impairment.
Complaints may be formally received by CSE staff, or by our subcontractors following our contractual agreement for the handling of complaints. Volunteers should direct complainants to a member of CSE staff and not attempt to handle complaints themselves.
When a complaint is received:
- It is recorded by the member of staff receiving the complaint. Verbal complaints must be recorded in writing by this member of staff as soon as possible.
- Customers or clients making a complaint will be asked about the circumstances which have led to their complaint and how they would like their situation to be addressed.
Complaints will normally be investigated by the Director of Team responsible for the area of work in which the complaint has arisen.
If a complaint is made about a member of CSE staff, it will be handled by their Director of Team. Complaints about members of the Senior Leadership Team will be handled by the Chief Executive or the Director of Finance & Operations. Members of staff named in the complaint, either personally or by role, will be informed of the complaint and supported by their manager during the investigation.
Complaint investigation may involve:
Contacting other organisations that are connected with the complaint in order to ensure that accountability for the cause of the complaint is justly identified and shared where appropriate.
Writing a formal letter of apology to the complainant detailing the reasons that gave them cause to complain and any remedial actions offered or already taken.
Within ten working days of receiving a complaint (whether written, electronic or verbal) we will reply, confirming that the complaint has been received and providing details of our complaints handling procedure, timescales and, where applicable, details of the relevant Ombudsman Service.
In the event that we cannot resolve the complaint within fifteen working days, the complaint will be referred to CSE’s Chief Executive and the complainant will be informed.
All complainants will receive a final decision from CSE regarding their complaint within eight weeks. We will endeavour to provide a response much sooner than this where possible. This will be signed by the relevant Director of Team or Chief Executive, and will include:
- An explanation of how we have considered the complaint.
- Conclusions reached in relation to the complaint.
- Any remedial action that we consider to be appropriate.
- Confirmation that we have already undertaken this action or an explanation of how and when we intend to undertake this action if it is accepted by the complainant.
- Details of how the complainant can refer their complaint to the relevant Ombudsman Service if they feel it has not been adequately addressed.
CSE’s relevant Director of Team will be responsible for ensuring that prompt action is taken to deliver any offer of remedial action accepted by the complainant.
Should the complaint be escalated to a relevant Ombudsman Service, CSE will cooperate fully with its investigation and, where relevant, work with our supply chain to help them do the same.
Supply chain complaints
Complaints may be received relating to the actions of CSE’s subcontractors where CSE holds a responsibility to the consumer. Our contractual relationships with subcontractors include complaints handling requirements to ensure these are dealt with effectively.
Complaints will be handled by the recipient of the complaint (either CSE or the subcontractor) to reduce risk of confusion to the complainant.
Where complaints are received directly by the subcontractor, the complaint must be reported to the relevant CSE project manager in full detail as soon as possible.
Where complaints are received by CSE, we will obtain all necessary information from the organisation(s) in question about the incident and, where applicable, notify any relevant accreditation body of the organisation(s) involved.
Complaints handling must comply with the principles of CSE’s complaints procedure regardless of whether the response to the complaint is being directly managed by CSE or by its subcontractor.
All statements, letters, phone calls and actions taken in an investigation are documented and maintained by the project manager of each project, or the Director of Team for wider issues. This includes:
- Details of the complainant and complaint, including date of occurrence and who was involved.
- Records of correspondence between CSE and the complainant regarding the complaint.
- The outcome of the complaint, which may include a formal apology or remedial action, and whether it was referred to a third party such as the Ombudsman Service.
Complaint details are held confidentially and recorded as part of our record of correspondence with each customer. The nature of CSE services is such that we need to be aware of past issues when dealing with customers and clients in order to ensure subsequent services to them are delivered to best effect.
Complaint records, including details of the complaint received and the measures taken for its resolution are normally retained for three years from the date the complaint was received. In some cases (such as long-term projects) this period may be longer in order to comply with reporting and quality management requirements, providing this arrangement complies with the principles of the Data Protection Act and General Data Protection Regulations with regard to storing and destroying personal data.
Complaints are monitored by Director of Team to identify and address any systematic problems that may arise.