The corporate complaints handling procedure outlined below describes how the City of Toronto manages complaints and compliments efficiently, fairly, effectively and uniformly across all City divisions.
All complaints should be filed as soon as possible to ensure that the individuals involved in the complaint are better able to properly address any concerns.
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction related to a City of Toronto program, service, or staff member, where a customer believes that the City or its staff has not provided a service experience to the customer’s satisfaction at the point of service delivery and a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected.
For the purpose of this policy, a Complaint can be about one or more of the following categories:
A customer complaint is distinct from:
Some complaints are exempt from these Guidelines, including:
A complaint may be made in a number of ways:
A form should be made available to help complainants make their written complaints, and should include the following components:
Complaints should be resolved informally, if possible. In some cases, a complainant will simply want to vent their frustrations to someone who will listen attentively. If City staff employ common courtesy, it is likely that these complaints will be resolved before formal action is necessary.
In cases where informal resolution is successful, complaint logging is not required.
Information about all complaints is recorded and tracked from initial receipt through the entire process until the complaint is resolved.
Recording complaint details ensures that if the complaint has to be escalated or referred to other business areas, staff will have all relevant information at hand to resolve the complaint. Additionally, staff can extract informative data for service planning, monitoring, controlling and decision making.
All complaints should be logged using a complaint logging form.
The complainant should be provided with:
The complaint recipient should conduct an initial assessment of the complaint and determine if the contact applies to the recipient’s program area or another area within the City. The complaint should be transferred to the appropriate area as necessary.
In cases where more than one City division is involved in the complaint, the division which interfaces with the complainant (i.e., the division that serves the complainant directly) should maintain ownership of the complaint.
A newly logged complaint should be assigned a unique tracking number to be logged into a shared database that is accessible to the entire division.
Tracking numbers should begin with three letters to distinguish the complaint’s division of origin (e.g., SWT00001 for Solid Waste Toronto). Adding letters to the tracking number ensures that if the complaint needs to be transferred to another division there will be no duplicate tracking numbers.
Complaint owners are responsible for receiving, recording, and ensuring the resolution of complaints as quickly as possible. The complaint owner should gather the relevant information and identify appropriate action. The complaint owner should:
If the complaint has to be terminated (e.g., it is in fact a service request, or it is a duplicate), or if the complaint is to be marked “pending” (e.g., due to insufficient detail), the complainant should be notified.
The complaint owner should consult with all relevant staff to determine what has happened and identify appropriate action to resolve the complaint (if possible), and summarize findings.
If the complainant is not satisfied, staff should escalate the complaint to their immediate supervisor. The complaint can be further escalated to the service area manager.
The manager should inform all individuals in the management chain so that the Senior Management Team is aware of the complaint and is prepared to take necessary action to resolve it.
The complaint owner should remain responsible for tracking progress, keeping customers informed, and ultimately for complaint closure throughout the escalation process.
Internal review of complaints may not always result in resolution and a complainant may seek external review. External review can take a number of forms:
If the proposed resolution is accepted by the complainant, the complaint is closed and the completed complaint tracking form, along with any other relevant documentation, is filed.
The complaints process must conform to Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements. The public should be able to access the complaints process at any point during service delivery via various channels: phone, letter, fax or email and in-person at relevant locations.
Information about how and where to complain should be well publicized through established communication mechanisms such as the City’s website and other means of public communications.
All complaints should be acknowledged and resolved in a timely manner. Complainants should receive a notification of receipt of the complaint including time frame for resolution. Complainants should be kept informed of delays.
Public complaints will be dealt with in a confidential manner according to the Municipal Freedom of the Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). Information will be collected, used and disclosed in accordance with the Act.
Staff should communicate to the public that complaints are taken very seriously and dealt with in a manner that meets and exceeds customer expectations.
Complaints analysis and periodical reporting should reflect the City’s commitment to understanding public needs, undertaking corrective measures to rectify problems, and improving public service delivery.
All complaints and their outcomes must be logged to track complaint trends and make service improvements.
Divisions should ensure that all staff are aware of their divisional complaint procedures through communication and/or training.
Management is responsible for using these guidelines to develop relevant systems for complaints collections, trend analysis, and reporting.
Management should also identify a member of staff as a dedicated complaints officer who will be responsible for establishing systems for complaints recording, tracking, and analysis.
Finally, management is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the complaints handling procedures and conducting periodic review to identify areas for improvement.
Staff will notify the complainant as necessary at the following occasions:
Service standards should be provided for each stage of the complaint management process.
When a service area receives a high volume of customer complaints, response time targets should be prioritized based on the severity, seriousness and complexity of the complaint.
Divisions should establish target response times for complaint assessment and internal investigation. Complainants should be notified after each of these stages.
Complainants should be informed of any excessive delays.
Regular monitoring and review of complaints should be conducted to identify complaint trends and opportunities for improvement. When information on complaints associated with a division is captured, classified and analyzed, systemic and recurring problems can be more easily identified and rectified, and opportunities for operational and customer service improvement may reveal themselves. A consistent approach by divisions will allow the City of Toronto to monitor and track its progress.
Each division will be responsible for the safekeeping and management of all complaint records (e.g., complaints log, investigation reports, written interview notes, copies of policy documents, etc.).
Complaint reporting and tracking guidelines are as follows:
Each division should develop a form that records complaints data for analysis purposes (template to follow). The form should include:
Each division should develop a database to record complaints data for analysis purposes. Categories should include:
Periodic reports should include (note: procedures and templates for reporting to follow):