Innovative Complaint Management

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This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)

Innovative Complaint Management is changing an organizations understanding of complaints from looking at complaints as errors and faults to look at complaints as a potential for new solution to change the service of the municipality, and appreciatively receive complaints as a learning organization.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The idea of addressing complaints with dialogue instead of written response was developed in 2014 in a network of managers in the municipality, who were given the task to find an innovative project from a problem a cross the organization: The managers found inspiration from the Netherlands and their open approach to citizens and invented the method - called the ABC-model.
The ABC-model was tested on ten complaints in the prototype and the results gave energy and inspiration to develop a project concerning the whole organization and were approved by the mayor and the city manager, as well as the finance committee in the municipality. The project addressed a turnaround in the organization moving the culture from understanding complaints as errors and mistrust of the service provided towards looking at complaints as potential resource to learning and a chance to get the citizens feedback and view on the service from a costumer angle in order to develop the service and also make organizational learning.
In using the ABC-model the employees solve the complaint in direct dialogue with the citizens and save time on administration, since there are less written answers to the complaints. Through 2015 and 2016, a central placed project team worked with the different departments in the municipality in order to spread and use the ABC-model at all levels when citizens complain or are frustrated in their approach to the municipality. In spreading the ABC-model the team used a complaint journey (with inspiration from "user journey") in different workshops with managers and employees. The complaint journey created an overview of the citizens meeting with the service and gave inspiration to new solutions on the service. The new solutions as well as testing the ABC-model over a limited period of time gave new knowledge to the organization as well as hands-on experience in using the ABC-model. The two methods together gave new perspective on the service and were used as implementation-tools. During 2015 and 2016, the ABC-model was spread throughout the organization and in 2017 we continue to implement and support the use of the ABC-model. Our baseline of registered complaint show that we have moved from solving 22 % of the complaints with the ABC-model to about 52 %.
At the beginning of 2018, we made a new score of the ABC-model and we still hold about 52 % of the complaints has been solved through dialogue instead of written answers. The organization now find it natural to use the ABC-model and use it both on complaints as well as inquiry. That means new knowledge to the organization and time saved on administration, which gives more time to provide the services. In evaluating the project both employees and citizens expressed relief and meaningfulness.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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Year: 2015
Level of government: Regional/State government


  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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