How the Adjudicator’s Office supports learning from complaints

How we support HM Revenue and Customs, the Valuation Office Agency and the Home Office to learn from complaints and work with them to improve their service.

The Adjudicator’s Office uses insight and expertise to promote learning from complaints that improves the service that the Adjudicator’s Office, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and the Home Office provide to our customers.

The Adjudicator’s Office resolves complaints by providing an accessible and flexible service, and by making fair and impartial decisions in the following ways:

  • providing a high quality, impartial and independent review of complaints for individual customers
  • having a flexible approach to promote resolution
  • identifying the specific issues that prevent resolution and to address those in the quickest and most effective way
  • where appropriate, investigating and making formal recommendations
  • focusing on what is important to you and help you to make complaints in the ways that best suit your needs

The Adjudicator’s Office supports and encourages effective resolutions throughout the complaint handling process in the following ways:

  • encourages and empowers effective complaint handling in the Adjudicator’s Office processes
  • focuses on customer experience and how to achieve positive outcomes
  • shares good practice and role model the approach and behaviours that support effective complaint handling

The Adjudicator’s Office uses insight and expertise to learn from complaints and improve services to you in the following ways:

  • identify and feed back on the trends and issues that drive complaints or negative customer experience
  • provide an external perspective to feedback, which is informed directly by the Adjudicator’s Office users
  • support learning from complaints to improve the service provided to users, both by the Adjudicator’s Office and by HMRC and the VOA

How we give feedback to HMRC and the VOA

There are 4 levels the Adjudicator’s Office takes to turn feedback into evidence that HMRC and the VOA uses. They are:

  • individual complaints – the Adjudicator’s Office investigates complaints, makes recommendations and learns from complaints that the Adjudicator’s Office cannot investigate because they’re outside their remit, or because HMRC or the VOA have not finished their investigation
  • topical reports – the Adjudicator’s Office will report on new and older topics affecting customers to help HMRC and the VOA on issues when they first happen
  • thematic learning – the Adjudicator’s office will report to HMRC and the VOA on strategic points coming from the complaints the Adjudicator’s Office investigate
  • track progress and validate changes HMRC and the VOA tell us they have made to their services

How we give feedback to the Home Office

The Adjudicator’s Office will give feedback and provide regular reports drawn from insights from individual reviews and complaints as appropriate to provide an opportunity for the Home Office to improve the delivery of the scheme.

How we explain our feedback to the organisations

Our feedback is provided under the following groups:

  • policy and process – for example, was the correct process followed, did the process itself contribute to the complaint?
  • decision making – for example, was it fair, reasonable, consistent and made at the right time?
  • customer focus – for example, did the person dealing with the complaint explain the impact and handle the situation with empathy and understanding?
  • culture and behaviours – for example, did the person dealing with the complaint take ownership and demonstrate departmental values?
  • communication – for example, was the information given in a clear and respectful manner?
  • complaint procedures – for example, was the complaint procedure followed and did the department demonstrate that they had learned from their mistake?

All of our feedback includes recommendations for HMRC, the VOA and the Home Office to consider. These recommendations will:

  • help the organisations improve their customer service
  • bring the organisations’ processes closer to those recommended by expert bodies, such as the Ombudsman Association
  • identify new areas to explore to improve customer service

Case studies:

We may use case studies in our reports to HMRC, the VOA and the Home Office to evidence the learning points and customer service improvements we have identified.  For transparency our reports may be published on our website.  

For confidentiality our case studies are fully anonymised, names are changed, and we will not include any other personal details.  However, if you do not want us to use your complaint as a case study please let us know. 

Published 18 December 2019