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A sensible (wo)man knows you can’t please everybody
On occasions when things don’t go to plan, you expect to work hard to pick up the pieces and regain the trust and confidence of those using the service and their advocates.
I understand the importance of dealing with anyone who has cause to make a complaint fairly and impartially. I actively encourage both positive and negative feedback in a number of ways, knowing how critical this information is in planning for our future.
But I am also realistic enough to know that there are some people you will never be able to please, no matter what you do. These people are thankfully few and far between, but it is inevitable at some stage you will have to deal with someone who will not be placated, however hard you try. These individuals can hinder my consideration of their concerns through persistent complaints. Indeed, I have met certain individuals who display aggressive and unreasonable behaviour when making their complaint. I would refer to these individuals as ‘vexatious’.
So how should you deal with a ‘vexatious’ complainant?
I would talk to them first to advise the complainant of my decision. I would confirm this in writing, along with the reasons as to why they are being referred to as vexatious. I would give the complainant an opportunity to appeal my decision with a Company Director.
I would still reassure the complainant that they should raise any new concerns or complaints if they need to, but I may limit the contact times and request that all concerns are raised with one nominated person (usually me!). I may also suggest one form of communication. Sometimes it’s better to have written points of complaint clearly set out in front of you, rather than feel the frustration of not getting your point across and the emotion of the subject rather than the actual concerns themselves. If appropriate I would also encourage that contact takes place via a third party, such as an advocacy service or the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
If every instance I would advise the complainant of their right to pursue their issues with the Local Government Ombudsman or Local Authority, and provide up-to-date contact information.
So whilst you may never be able to please everybody all of the time, you know you are doing everything you can to encourage good working relations even in the most testing and difficult circumstances.