“What providers can learn from the way in which online complaints and feedback platforms connect with people.
Most people would agree that to enable complaints to positively stimulate innovation in public services, they need to be part of an on-going dialogue between consumers (or users) of public services and providers. Rather than something to be feared, complaints should be just one element of a wide spectrum of feedback and involvement, which all help to make services work better for people.
New innovations in online complaints and feedback handling such as Patient Opinion and FixMyStreet enable simple, open and user-centred ways to share opinions or make complaints in a way that bypasses the traditional provider-led process. However, as with most discussions on technology in public services, there is concern about the non-users of digital technology and how to make sure that they do not miss out on the advantages offered by new innovations in technology. This is really important as it is often the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups who are the least likely to complain.
But if we only focus on access to technology, we risk missing the distinct attitudes and ideas that these new online complaint and feedback mechanisms have at their core. These attitudes and ideas could be really valuable to other services wanting to start up conversations, encourage feedback, gather complaints and deal openly with people’s concerns.”
Liz Coll is a Policy Manager at Consumer Focus researching and writing about new forms of digitally-driven consumer empowerment