Customer Conduct Procedure

Purpose statement

The goal of this procedure is to provide a positive, safe, and supportive approach to promoting acceptable and appropriate customer conduct. The town encourages respectful and considerate relationships between the town and its customers.

This procedure is also to establish a process that describes how the Corporation of the Town of Oakville (the town) manages unacceptable conduct by customers.

Scope

This procedure applies to all forms of communication by members of the public to town employees and includes but is not limited to online, electronic, print and verbal communications.

Procedure

Providing excellent customer service is important to the town delivering high quality programs and services. Town staff, volunteers and anyone acting on behalf of the town are expected to conduct themselves in a respectful manner.

Equally, customers are responsible for behaving in a respectful manner to promote an environment that can be shared by all. This procedure is not intended to deal with generally difficult customers, the town recognizes customers are unique with varying interests and concerns. This procedure applies to customers whose conduct is unacceptable. Determining whether particular behaviours or demands are unacceptable requires all circumstances of a particular case to be taken into account. In most situations, the key difference is whether the conduct has a negative impact on town staff’s ability to provide programs and services to others and that causes distress or disruption without proper or justified cause.

Reporting unacceptable conduct

For the purposes of this procedure, unacceptable conduct is any action by a customer, which because of its nature or frequency, has a disproportionate and unreasonable impact on the town, staff, other customers, services, time and/or resources.

Some examples of what we might consider to be unacceptable conduct are listed below. The list is not exhaustive, nor does one single action on its own necessarily imply that the customer will be considered as unacceptable:

Unacceptable behaviour

  • Verbal including threats, profanity, rude or inappropriate language, attempts to goad or incite anger in others, harassment, discrimination
  • Physical including aggressive or intimidating approaches to another individual, throwing articles in a deliberate or aggressive manner, physical striking of another individual
  • Illegal activity including illegal consumption of alcohol or drugs, theft, possession of weapons, vandalism
  • Any act that violates town permits, policies or by-laws
  • Any act that gives rise to concern for public safety

Unacceptable demands, persistence, lack of cooperation

  • Demanding responses within an unreasonable timeframe and not within the town’s Customer Service Standards
  • Insisting on outcomes that are not possible or appropriate in the circumstances
  • Demanding services that are of a nature or scale that cannot be provided by the town
  • Unwillingness or refusing to accept the town cannot provide a particular service or action on a particular issue
  • Persistently contacting the town about the same matter when it has been considered and dealt with
  • Repeatedly sending phone calls, voicemail messages, visits, letters, emails after being asked not to do so
  • Contacting different staff seeking a different outcome or response
  • Arguing frequently about a solution in the face of valid contrary explanations
  • Displaying unhelpful behaviour such as withholding information, misquoting others
  • Refusing to cooperate with the complaints investigation process while still wishing their complaint to be resolved
  • Making unjustified complaints about staff who are trying to deal with the issue or filing complaints about staff that are frivolous or vexatious in nature
  • Making excessive demands on the time and resources of staff with a high volume or frequency of correspondence, or mingling requests with accusations and complaints

The town recognizes the decision to deem a customer’s behaviour, or request for information as unacceptable could have significant consequences for the customer, including restricting their access to town programs, services, and/or property. As such, this procedure outlines clear examples of unacceptable behaviours and demands as well as steps for staff to follow. Before deciding to apply any restrictions, we will ensure that:

The complaint or request for information has been dealt with properly and in line with the relevant procedures and statutory guidelines, and

Staff have made every effort to satisfy the request or resolve the complaint

When these have been applied and where appropriate as a result of a repeated pattern of unacceptable conduct or a single significant incident, staff will follow the process outlined in Appendix A.

Any restrictions made under this procedure are on a case by case basis and there is an opportunity for the affected customer to appeal any restrictions, as outlined in Appendix A.

Definitions

Customer – includes but is not limited to residents, individuals, business, not-for-profit organizations, stakeholders, community and corporate organizations that interact with the town and its employees.

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.

Responsibilities

Customers are responsible for:

  • Complying with this procedure

Employees are responsible for:

  • Complying with this procedure

Supervisors and managers are responsible for:

  • Contacting Human Resources for unacceptable behaviour towards staff that is related to the prohibited grounds of the Ontario Human Rights Code or the definitions of workplace violence or harassment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to determine appropriate investigation procedure

Directors and commissioners are responsible for:

  • Taking action when a customer’s conduct is unreasonable based on the criteria in this procedure

Departments are responsible for:

  • Providing information to other departments, where appropriate, to make staff aware of any restrictions that have been put in place

ServiceOakville is responsible for:

  • Keeping records of any decisions which shall include the name and address of each customer who is classified as unacceptable; what restrictions have been put in place; the end date of restrictions

 

Procedure details

Procedure Number: G-COM-003-003
Parent Policy: G-COM-003
Section: Governance
Sub-Section: Communications
Author: Strategy, Policy and Communications
Authority: CAO
Effective Date: 2019 Sep 23
Review by Date: 2024
Last Modified: 2019 Sep 23

References

Appendix A - Process
Appendix B - Customer Conduct Report form
Appendix C - Templates

  • Notice letter
  • Letter to outline actions/restrictions and when decision will be reviewed
  • Letter after review and follow-up

Customer Service Standards and Customer Conduct Policy and Related Procedures
Ethics and Efficiency Hotline Procedure
Online Communications Policy
Communications Procedure
Translation and Interpretation Procedure
Social Media Guidelines
Electronic Messages and Anti-Spam Compliance Procedure
Access to Records and Information Policy
Accessible Information and Communications Procedure
Information Technology General Use and Practices Policy
Video Surveillance Policy
Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
Ontario Human Rights Code
Occupational Health and Safety Act