We are committed to providing an excellent service to all our customers in a fair and impartial way. We also recognise that occasionally there may be instances where we get things wrong or are unable to help customers in the way they would like, which could cause customers to feel frustrated, upset or distressed. However, all our staff deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, so if customer frustration turns into aggressive or unacceptable behaviour, we will take this seriously and act.
This policy explains how we handle a customer whose behaviour is what we consider beyond reasonable and applies to:
• anyone who contacts us, including existing or potential customers, any representatives or businesses
• all types of contact, including via telephone, e-mails, letters, social media and other digital channels
• all areas of our business
Complaints about our service
If your complaint is about the service we have provided we will ask you to complete a form where you can lay out your concerns clearly so that we can investigate them thoroughly.
Our aim is to provide a service that meets the expectations of our customers and offers equal access to all. Where someone makes unreasonable demands, this will impact our ability to provide the best service to everyone. Examples are:
• insisting on speaking to a particular member of staff when we have explained that:
o they are not available
o they are not the most appropriate person• insisting that we respond or act in an unreasonably short time
• refusal to accept explanations of what we can or cannot do
Aggressive or abusive behaviour
We understand that in rare instances, customers may be unhappy with the information we have provided to them or with the decisions we have made. However, it is unacceptable to be aggressive or abusive when contacting our staff. Examples are:
• inflammatory language
• verbal abuse
• discrimination, of any kind
• rude, obscene or insulting remarks
• any threat of violence
Excessive levels of contact
We have documented processes and set timescales in place to keep everyone updated on the progress of their case. We do understand that some customers will contact us for additional updates, however, if this becomes excessive it affects our ability to do our job. Examples are:
• repeated telephone calls or emails, after we have explained when you can expect a response
• repeated service complaints which raise the same points which have already been dealt with
Action we might take
All our staff have the authority to manage unreasonable behaviour from others. If we consider a person’s behaviour to be unreasonable, we will tell them why and politely ask them to change it.
While this is normally enough to solve the problem, we operate a zero-tolerance policy, and if the aggressive, abusive or offensive behaviour continues, we will consider whether more formal action is required.
• advising someone on a call that their behaviour is unreasonable and that they need to change it, and that failure to do so will mean that we will have to terminate the call
• repetitive and numerous complaint emails, just rewording their previous complaints which have been responded to. In this scenario we may write saying that “any future communication will be added to the file but not responded to”
If the unreasonable behaviour does not stop, the matter may be escalated and any decision to invoke this policy and restrict the person’s contact with us will be taken by a divisional lead or a director of the area of the business affected. The way we may restrict contact includes:
• asking for contact in a particular form (such as email only)
• only allowing contact with a specific member of staff or at specific times
• asking the person to enter into an agreement about their future behaviour
• actions designed to specifically meet the needs of the person
In all cases we will write to tell the person why we believe their behaviour is unreasonable, the impact of their behaviour on the member of staff, what action we are taking and how long that action will last. Where we have followed this process, and a person continues to behave in a way that is unreasonable, we may decide to end contact with that person.
In the unlikely event that we decide a person’s behaviour is so extreme that it threatens the immediate safety and welfare of our staff or others, we will consider stopping all contact immediately, reporting what has happened to the police or taking legal action, and may not warn the person before we do this.