Policy on Customer Complaints and Disengagement
Commitment to Quality Customer Service
The Tailte Éireann (TE) Registration Division is committed to providing a high-quality service to all of our customers and service users. While the majority of our customers are satisfied with the standard of service they receive, there are some who express dissatisfaction on occasion.
This policy outlines the procedure for use by a customer when lodging a complaint about the service provided by the Registration Division of Tailte Éireann. We are committed to dealing with all complaints in a courteous, expeditious and efficient manner and to use the feedback received to improve the customer experience for all service users.
If a customer’s complaint turns to aggression or abuse towards staff, or unreasonable requests are taking an inordinate amount of staff resources which could be better spent in the public interest, a decision may be made to disengage with that customer in the manner as set out in this policy.
Registration Complaints Procedure
The Complaints Procedure, available on our website, provides full details of the process to follow in making a complaint.
If possible, the complaint should be brought initially to the attention of the staff member involved who will try to resolve the issue. If the member of staff is not in a position to assist, the customer can raise the complaint with the relevant Divisional Manager using the contact details provided on the Complaints Procedure.
All complaints received will be acknowledged within 5 working days. We aims to keep the customer informed of the progress of any investigation into the matter. A full response to the complaint will issue within 20 working days, pending any delays in getting sight of relevant Instruments which may be required from our storage facility or required issuing of notices to third parties. Any delay in response will be advised to the complainant.
If a customer is not satisfied with the way the complaint has been dealt with by the staff member and/or by the Divisional Manager, they may lodge an official complaint to the Registration Customer Experience Manager.
Role of the Customer Experience Manager
The role of the Customer Experience Manager is to facilitate any customer or service user in making a complaint, to ensure that the complaint is dealt with by the most appropriate officer, and to issue a comprehensive response. The Registration Division Customer Experience Manager is:
Tailte Éireann, Government Buildings, Golf Links Road, Roscommon, F42 NC84 DX90014
email: CustomerServiceOfficer@prai.ie phone: 090 66 32721
When a complaint is received by the Customer Experience Manager (CEM), they will investigate the issue(s) raised in conjunction with the relevant Divisional Manager. If the complaint is in relation to a legal issue, the matter may be reviewed by the Deputy Registrar as appropriate.
Upon completion of the investigation, and having reviewed all relevant Instruments and historical correspondence, the CEM will respond in writing to the complainant.
In their response, the CEM will advise the customer of their entitlement to address the matter to the Ombudsman if they feel that their complaint has not been dealt with by Tailte Éireann in a satisfactory manner.
Role of the Ombudsman
Any member of the public who feels they have been unfairly treated by a public service provider in Ireland can contact the Ombudsman. If Tailte Éireann do not succeed in resolving a complaint made by a customer, the customer may refer their complaint to the Ombudsman.
Office of the Ombudsman
6 Earlsfort Terrace
Tel: 01 6395600
Where the complainant writes to the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman’s Office will request a report from us on the matter and will consider whether the customer has good grounds for complaint. We will cooperate with any request from the Ombudsman to assist them in their investigation, including sharing all reports or historical correspondence on the matter as required.
Unreasonable or Unacceptable Behaviour
We are committed to providing a high quality service to all of our customers or service users. At the same time, we have an obligation to protect the welfare and safety of every member of staff.
No member of Registration staff will be required, or feel obliged, to deal with any customer / service user who is exhibiting threatening, abusive or offensive behaviour.
In addition, handling unreasonable behaviour can absorb a disproportionate amount of time and resources which could be more productively used in the public interest. Consequently, it is important to clarify our policy in this area.
Unreasonable behaviour may take the form of:
- unreasonable persistence in pursuing an argument that has already been addressed or re-framing the complaint to present it as a fresh issue or complaint
- unreasonable demands and lack of cooperation, for example:
- seeking an alternative decision on a case that can only be appealed further by taking the case to court
- demanding that their case is not to be dealt with by a particular officer, where that officer is the most appropriate officer to deal with the case
- demanding that the opening hours of the public office be changed to facilitate their requirements
- making multiple queries in relation to the same issue to the same officer or to a number of officers
- unreasonable arguments such as the customer presenting irrelevant arguments and/or insisting that their interpretation of legal or other issues should be accepted as correct
Unacceptable behaviour may take the form of threats of physical harm or actual physical and/or emotional harm, behaviour or language (verbal or written) that may cause staff to feel offended, afraid, threatened, insulted or degraded. It includes harassment based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, disability or other protected characteristics.
In all circumstances where any customer displays unacceptable behaviour as outlined above, an incident report will be completed and kept on record. Should the behaviour persist, a decision to terminate all contact with the customer may be made.
Unreasonable or Unacceptable behaviour at any of our public offices
If a customer’s behaviour becomes unreasonable or unacceptable at one of the Registration public offices, the local office manager may make the decision to refuse to deal with the customer in person and to restrict future access to our public offices. An incident report will be completed and kept on record. The local office manager will make a decision on whether to consider the customer under the Customer Disengagement policy.
Unreasonable or Unacceptable behaviour on Telephone Calls
Guidelines for all staff have been put in place for dealing with abusive telephone calls. This involves three stages, summarised as follows:
Stage 1 – the caller should be given one warning regarding their behaviour
Stage 2 – if the abuse continues, terminate the call in a controlled and polite manner
Stage 3 – log the incident by completing an Incident Report Form.
Where abusive/unreasonable telephone calls persist, the abusive caller will be referred to the local Divisional Manager. Having reviewed the Incident Report(s), the Divisional Manager may make the decision to restrict or refuse all telephone contact with the caller. They will also make a decision on whether to refer the customer under the Customer Disengagement policy.
In the case of written communications, where a customer displays unreasonable persistence on a matter where we have nothing further to add, the correspondence will be referred to the Customer Experience Manager (CEM) for response. On the recommendation of the CEM, the Head of Operations will review the case and may give a direction on progressing disengagement with the customer.
Disengaging with Customers
We understand that people may act out of character in times of distress or due to frustration. However, if that frustration turns to aggression or abuse towards staff, or unreasonable requests are taking an excessive amount of staff resources, we may seek a decision to disengage with an individual as a last resort.
In all cases, a report on the matter will be referred to the Head of Operations to make a decision to disengage with a customer / service user. The customer will be advised of the actions taken as a result of any decision made to disengage. Possible actions that might be considered include:
- requesting contact in a particular form (letters only)
- requiring contact to take place with a named officer
- restricting telephone calls to specified days and times
- restricting access to the Registration public offices
- asking the customer to enter into an agreement about their future conduct.
Ultimately, and as a last resort, where the behaviour shows no signs of improving, it may be decided to terminate all contact with the individual. Where the Head of Operations has made a decision to disengage with the individual, Senior Managers will be informed of the decision and the action taken and will advise staff as appropriate.
It is not in the best interests of our customers to remain on a Disengagement Log any longer than necessary. A review of the original correspondence, the severity of the action taken, and any correspondence or engagement with the individual since the decision to disengage, will be reviewed after a period of six months from the date of last contact.
Customer Disengagement Log
Where the Head of Operations has taken a decision to limit interaction with a customer or service user pursuant to this policy, the decision will be recorded on the Disengagement Log. The Log will be accessible on the internal systems to senior management only. The contents of the log are for internal reference only and will, on no account, be disclosed to anyone outside of Tailte Éireann.
Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty
Under Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014, all public bodies have an obligation to fulfil the Public Sector Duty which seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination, to promote equality and protect the human rights of customers, staff and service users and everyone affected by their policies and plans.
Tailte Éireann seeks to meet its obligations under the Act and has put in place mechanisms through which the protection of human rights and the promotion of equality can be achieved for customers, staff and service users. We will continue to review and report on the fulfilment of our statutory obligations.