Customer Service Complaints and Compliments Procedure

Purpose statement

To establish a process that describes how the Corporation of the Town of Oakville (the town) manages complaints and compliments efficiently, fairly, effectively and uniformly.


This procedure applies to all complaints and compliments made by a customer about a town employee, member of a town committee and volunteers acting on behalf of the town.


A compliment is an expression of approval made by a customer about a town employee’s behaviour or conduct.

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction made by a customer about services, actions or behaviour by a town employee. Examples may include perceptions of:

  • A failure to do something agreed to
  • A failure to observe policy or procedures
  • An error
  • Unfair or discourteous actions/behaviour
  • Access to service
  • Timeliness of service
  • Quality of service

A customer complaint is distinct from:

  • Inquiry: a general or specific request for service or request for information regarding a town product or service made by a customer
  • Feedback: an opinion, comment or expression of interest in a town program or service by a customer
  • Suggestion: an idea submitted to the town by a customer with the aim of improving services, programs, products or processes
  • Problem: report a problem using the town’s online tracking system (e.g. parking concerns, graffiti, garbage, coyote encounters, etc.)

There are some complaints that this procedure does not address:

  • Anonymous complaints: anonymous complaints are difficult, if not impossible, to assess or investigate and will not be dealt with through the complaint handling process. See Ethics and Efficiency Hotline Procedure for appropriate instances to make an anonymous complaint
  • Situations that are of concern to the complainant but which are outside of the control of the employee, such as service levels, resource allocations or departmental policies. These forms of complaints will be brought to the attention of the department manager, or designate, or where appropriate, the department’s director or commissioner, and/or Council
  • Complaints by employees: procedures are available for employees to initiate complaints within the organization. See Respectful Conduct Policy
  • Complaints about Members of Council or council and committee meeting conduct. To file a complaint, see Code of Conduct for Members of Council Policy or the Accountability and Transparency Policy

Process for compliment handling

A compliment may be made in a number of ways:

  • Verbal compliments made in person or by telephone
  • Written compliments made online, by email, or mail

The compliment will be shared with the employee and will be acknowledged as part of the town’s employee recognition program. It is important to celebrate and recognize staff for their dedication and contributions to the success of the town's overall mission, vision and values.

Process for complaint handling

A complaint may be made in a number of ways:

  • Verbal complaints made in person or by telephone
  • Written complaints made online, by email, or mail

The complaint should include the following components:

  • Contact details of the customer (name and contact information)
  • Summary of the complaint (including location and staff involved)

All complaints should be submitted in a timely manner to ensure individuals involved are able to properly address any concerns. Staff will follow the Customer Service Standards Procedure to ensure a timely response.

Any complaint that contains profanity, rude or inappropriate language will not receive a response.

Complaints will be dealt with in a confidential manner according to the Municipal Freedom of the Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Information will be collected, used and disclosed in accordance with the Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Informal resolution

Complaints should be resolved informally, if possible. Staff will communicate with the customer to resolve the issue. Departments are responsible for receiving, recording, and ensuring the resolution of complaints in a timely manner, in accordance with the town’s Customer Service Standards. The goal of any complaint is to resolve the issue in a timely manner and in a way that reflects the town’s commitment to customer service excellence.


Where a complaint is not resolved informally, a customer may escalate the complaint.


The supervisor or manager and where appropriate the director or commissioner shall gather the relevant information to identify appropriate action:

  • Confirm the complaint is not an inquiry, feedback, a suggestion or a comment
  • Check for any previous complaints from the customer or about the issue(s)
  • Ensure information is complete, contact the customer to clarify the issue and capture any missing required details, as appropriate

If it is determined that the complaint should be discarded (e.g., it is a service request or duplicate), or if the complaint is pending (e.g., due to insufficient detail), the customer will be notified.

Internal review

The department supervisor or manager, or where appropriate director or commissioner should consult with all relevant staff, including Human Resources where appropriate, to determine what happened and identify appropriate action to resolve the complaint.


In cases where more than one town department is involved in the complaint, the department, which interfaces with the customer (i.e., the department that serves the customer directly), should ensure coordination of resolving the complaint. That department will be responsible for tracking progress and keeping the customer informed throughout the process until the complaint is resolved in accordance with town policies and procedures and any relevant provincial or federal legislation.

Any complaint that is found to be frivolous or vexatious in nature will be dealt with in accordance with the Customer Conduct Procedure.

External review

Internal review of complaints may not always result in resolution and a complainant may seek external review. There are a number of accountability/complaint bodies that receive and investigate complaints from the public about the conduct of public sector agencies (e.g., the Office of the Ombudsman).


Frivolous – means a complaint that is reasonably perceived by the town to be (a) without reasonable or probable cause (b) without merit or substance, or (c) trivial.

Vexatious – means a complaint that is frivolous and which is pursued in a manner that is reasonably perceived by the town to be (a) malicious) (b) intended to embarrass or harass the recipient, or (c) intended to be a nuisance.


Employees are responsible for:

  • Complying with this procedure

Customers are responsible for:

  • Behaving and acting in a manner that respects the rights of others to promote an environment that can be enjoyed by all
  • Filing complaints that are neither frivolous or vexatious in nature

Management is responsible for:

  • Following up on compliments and complaints in accordance with town procedure

Human Resources is responsible for:

  • Working with management in determining appropriate level of progressive discipline and/or remedial action for the circumstances, as required