Risk

Insufficient responsiveness to complaints

An insufficient system for managing customer complaints negatively affects the organization’s reputation and legitimacy.

Risk type: Practice

Risk driver: Internal

DESCRIPTION

Low responsiveness to customers typically goes along with weak customer relations and complaint management. Without a properly functioning complaint management, organizations lose their ability to control risks and manage external relations, because failures, unethical behaviour, or illicit practices by the organization’s staff or partners do not get reported to those responsible. Furthermore, customers are unable to seek redress and lose trust.

RED FLAGS

All:

  • Long response time of water sector organization to customer complaints
  • No monitoring and reporting of customer complaints and the response rate
  • Complaint response rate not integrated into key performance indicators
  • Insufficient resources and/or unclear mandate of the customer relations unit to process, document, and systematically analyse the complaints
  • Customer relations unit not independent, for example from the management or other staff members
  • Low public awareness of the customer relations unit
  • Inadequate whistleblower protection, such as insufficient anonymity of complaints

Utilities :

  • High number of complaints that have to be made before the problem is fixed1
  • Customers fixing their problems themselves or hiring someone to do the job1
  • Newspaper articles, letters to the editor, and complaints from community groups1

KEY GUIDING DOCUMENTS

Asís, M. G. de, Leary, D. O., Ljung, P., and Butterworth, J., 2009, Improving Transparency, Integrity, and Accountability in Water Supply and Sanitation, World Bank Institute and Transparency International

GIZ, no year, Summary WAG complaint mechanism, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

GENERAL EXAMPLES

No response to customer complaints2

Location: Bangladesh

There is no accountability within the sector institutions because complaint channels are not available, as public officials are protected, and service providers are not accountable to their consumers and users. The Local Government Engineering Department has a system to issue complaints regarding these services but sometimes does not respond to consumers.

TARGETED EXAMPLES

Water Action Group (WAG) Complaint Mechanism3

Target group: Utilities, Public institutions

Location: Kisumu, Kenya

A consumer in Dunga area of Kisumu complained to one WAG [Water Action Group] member that a particular meter reader was soliciting money from consumers supposedly to pay their bills for them. But the payments were never recorded as paid in the office although the water supply was not disconnected. The consumer was afraid to be seen checking on his balance at KIWASCO [Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company Limited] offices and requested the WAG to do it on his behalf. It was found that the bill had accumulated to KES 40,000 (~USD 400). When the WAG team member raised the matter with KIWASCO, the consumer’s water supply was immediately disconnected. Later the WAG member received a message from the meter reader through a third party who warned her to stop interfering with their work. A week later supply to the consumer was reconnected without him paying the bill. This case raises several concerns, among which is the reality that utility staff receiving complaints do not maintain confidentiality and instead alert the criticised individuals. The WAG member has since filed a complaint with the police.

FULL REFERENCES

  1. Asís, M. G. de, Leary, D. O., Ljung, P., and Butterworth, J., 2009, Improving Transparency, Integrity, and Accountability in Water Supply and Sanitation, World Bank Institute and Transparency International
  2. Rahman, S. H. and Islam, S. T., 2014, Country Baseline Assessment – Water Sector Integrity in Bangladesh, Bangladesh Water Integrity Network (BAWIN), Water Integrity Network (WIN) and Transparency International Bangladesh
  3. GIZ, no year, Summary WAG complaint mechanism, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

 

Last updated 12 April 2019

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