Our customer service standards

We are committed to offering you a high-quality service. Our Customer Service Standards describe how you can expect us to act.

Please note that these standards apply to all functions of our organisation - public service complaints and whistleblowing complaints handling as well as Scottish Welfare Fund reviews.

Respect and Dignity

  • We will treat you with courtesy, respect and dignity.
  • We will work with you without discrimination or prejudice.

Keeping you informed

  • We will explain our investigation process to you.
  • We will keep you informed of progress and tell you what needs to happen at each stage.
  • We will always tell you who to contact if you have any questions.


  • We will deal with your complaint in a timely manner, taking into account the complexity of the case.


  • We will be as accurate, plain and clear as we can in our communications.


  • Our service will be easily available and accessible to you.
  • We will work with you to meet your individual needs, including working with representatives to support you through our service.


  • We will listen to what you want from us and ensure we understand your complaint. If we cannot help you, we will direct you to an organisation who can.


  • We will publicise information about the Ombudsman, who is in charge of decisions on complaints.
  • We will give you information about how we handle complaints.


  • We will consider all information provided to us before we reach a decision.
  • Our decisions will be based on all of the relevant evidence.

Impartiality and independence

  • We will make decisions on cases on the independent evaluation provided to us by all relevant parties alone.


  • We guarantee that the Ombudsman (or the most senior officeholder in charge of your case) has the relevant skills and knowledge to make the decision on your complaint.

Explaining our scope

  • We will clearly explain what we can look at, any restrictions that apply and what we can and cannot achieve.

Reaching sound outcomes

  • We will clearly explain our reasons for our decisions.
  • We will ensure remedies are proportionate, appropriate and fair.
  • We will make sure remedies are put in place, as far as we can.

Ensuring impact

  • We will use the outcomes of complaints and the learning from them to promote improvement and learning in the service and sector you complained about.

Handling information

  • We will ensure our record-keeping is accurate, that we hold data securely and share it appropriately.

Putting things right

  • We will acknowledge and apologise for any mistakes we make, put them right quickly and ensure lessons are learned to improve our service. 

What we expect from you

We are committed to dealing with you in line with our customer service standards.  We also expect you to treat our staff and our service with respect. Occasionally, the behaviour or actions of individuals using our service makes it very difficult for us to deal with their complaint. In a small number of cases the actions of individuals become unacceptable because they involve abuse of our staff or our process.

When this happens we have to take action to protect our staff.  Our Engagement Policy explains how we will interact with people and approach these situations. 

Are you happy with the service you received from us?

If something goes wrong or you are not satisfied with our service, please tell us.  You have the right to complain if you feel we are not meeting our customer service standards. We take complaints about our service very seriously and have a special procedure for dealing with them.  Our complaints procedure (PDF) sets out how we handle complaints. You can use our service complaints form (PDF) or online form below.  If you need further information, or you need the leaflet and form in another language or format, please contact us.

If you are happy with the service you received from us, please let us know. And we are always interested to hear suggestions on how we can improve our service.

Making a complaint about our service

The SPSO is committed to offering a high standard of service, across all our functions (including the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer and Scottish Welfare Fund services). We take any complaints about our service seriously and aim to address any areas where we have not delivered to the standards we expect of ourselves.  We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our services.

To help us respond to your complaint appropriately and as quickly as possible we recommend that you complete our online service complaints form below. Alternatively, you can complain by phone, in writing, by email or by requesting a paper copy of our form.

Stage one: Early resolution

We will always try to resolve your complaint quickly and within five working days. In exceptional circumstances we may extend this by up to five working days. If you are unhappy with our response, you can ask us to consider your complaint at stage two.

Stage two: Investigation

We will look at your complaint at this stage if you are dissatisfied with our response at stage one. We also look at some complaints immediately at this stage if it is clear that they are complex, need detailed investigation, or it is otherwise appropriate to do so. We will acknowledge your complaint within three working days. We will give you our decision as soon as possible. This will be after no more than 20 working days unless there are exceptional circumstances. If so, we will advise you and keep you updated on our progress.

The Independent Customer Service Complaints Reviewer

If, after receiving our final decision on your service complaint, you remain unhappy with our response or the way we have handled your complaint, you can ask the independent reviewer to consider it.  You must make your request within one month of receiving our decision letter. We will tell you how to do this when we send you our final response. 
In some circumstances where there may be concerns over potential conflicts of interest when complaining about SPSO senior staff, your service complaint can be taken straight to the independent reviewer without going through the SPSO customer service procedure first. This remains at the discretion of the SPSO.

The ICSCR is a non-statutory process that is independent from the SPSO. There may be times where the ICSCR notifies us they cannot look at or decides not to look at a complaint at stage 3. If this happens you can refer the case back to the Ombudsman directly who will decide what, if any action will be taken at that point.

Submit a complaint about our service


Information sharing with the Independent Customer Service Complaints Reviewer

Our normal stage 3 customer service complaint process is to give access to both public service complaint and customer service complaint case files to the Independent Customer Service Complaints Reviewer (ICSCR). It would then be up to the ICSCR to decide what is relevant or not. If you do not wish for the ICSCR to have either the public service complaint or both the public service complaint and customer service complaint case files shared with them you should email [email protected] to inform the SPSO of your decision to not share this information. If you chose to share the public service complaint case files but there are specific points you wish to be redacted, then please also email the SPSO with the details of which points you wish to be redacted.

Information, recording and monitoring

If we identify shortcomings in our service through a complaint, we use this information to review and improve the service we provide.

We'll tell you about any administrative action that we take as the result of learning from a complaint about our service. But we will not provide information about any action taken against individual member(s) of staff.

Customer service complaints statistics

As an organisation we are committed to improving our service.   A summary of complaints are communicated to our senior management team so that we can address any systemic issues that may be identified and learn from these.

We keep a record of all complaints made about our service and the outcome of each complaint.


Updated: May 24, 2024