COVID-19 update

Our office is currently not open to visitors. We are responding to emails and are operating a limited telephone service for complaints related enquiries. Our Scottish Welfare Fund review service is available by telephone as normal.  Please read our information for customers and organisations

Training courses

Our training courses have been delivered to a broad range of public sector organisations and receive consistently good feedback. Currently because of Covid restrictions we are only delivering online courses, with two options:

  • open courses, where you can book a few spaces and come along to a course with around 15 participants, or
  • you can book us to deliver an online course directly to your team.

Our Training Coordinator, Nicola Driver, is happy to discuss options and what will work best for you and your organisation. Details of our online Complaints Investigation Skills course are below.

You can email Nicola via our Training Unit (link sends e-mail).

Good Complaints Handling training course

Our online Good Complaints Handling course is available as an "in-house" course delivered to your organisation or as an open course. It is aimed at staff handling complaints at Stage 1 of the Model Complaints Handling Procedure (MCHP). It is trainer-led, approximately 2.5 hours long, and delivered via Webex. It covers:

  • what a complaint is and isn't
  • improving the complaint experience
  • MCHP overview
  • responses and recording
  • strategies for managing difficult behaviour, and
  • signposting to useful resources.

For more information, costs and how to book, please contact

Complaints Investigation Skills training course

Our online Complaints Investigation Skills course is available as an "in-house" course delivered to your organisation or as an open course.

This course is aimed at staff who investigate complaints at Stage 2 of the Model Complaints Handling procedure and will comprise of three trainer-led modules, each 2.5 hours long and delivered via Webex. These cover:

  • Preparing to investigate complaints: what people expect when complaining, influences on decision-making, summarising complaints, talking to complainants
  • Investigating complaints: planning your investigation, key questions to ask, identifying sources of information, evaluating evidence
  • Making and communicating decisions: good decision letters, meaningful apologies, appropriate remedies, learning from complaints.

For more information, costs and how to book, please contact

Current availability 

Open course

Our Good Complaints Handling open courses are currently fully booked.


We are now fully booked until the end of 2021.  Please email us for more information or to book for 2022.

For regular updates and new dates for upcoming open courses, sign up to our enewsletter or follow us on Twitter (@SPSO_Ombudsman) or LinkedIn (Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Content of past courses

Who should attend?

This course is for managers, team leaders, complaints officers and any other staff involved in the investigation of complaints. The course aims to develop their awareness of what makes the experience of complaining a good one or a bad one and explores the investigation process from initial receipt to conclusion.

What will I learn?

The aims of this course are to help participants develop their skills in complaints investigation, specifically in:

  • defining and analysing complaints accurately
  • planning investigations and making best use of information
  • evaluating information and evidence and making sound decisions
  • communicating findings effectively
  • identifying ways of resolving complaints quickly and appropriately
  • overcoming common problems
How is the course run?

The style is interactive, using a variety of activities and materials. The first part of the day deals with good customer relations, using participants’ own experiences. Most of the day is centred around a case study based on a real complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

Participants will be asked to use their own expertise as well as drawing on that of the trainer. At each point in the process the presenter offers guidance and insights on applying the Ombudsman’s principles of good practice in investigating complaints.

What does it cost?

The cost is £180 per person.

Who Should Attend?

This course is for staff who have direct contact with members of the public and who receive complaints as part of their day-to-day work.  Frontline staff can play a vital role in the early resolution of complaints.  This course aims to help them to make the most of the potential in their roles.

What will I learn?

The aims of this course are to help participants to:

  • identify complaints early and get them on the right track
  • develop their understanding of what generates customer satisfaction
  • identify what makes the experience of complaining a good or bad one
  • build their confidence in dealing with complaints
  • recognise their role within the authority in handling and resolving complaints
How is the course run?

The course is interactive, using a variety of activities and materials including:

  • participants’ experience of making complaints and our experience of what can go wrong
  • research findings on what contributes to customer satisfaction
  • practical exercises including a case study to identify and resolve service failures
  • a troubleshooting exercise to consider the problems staff encounter and possible solutions

Who should attend?

Staff who might receive negative feedback from the public or other stakeholders.

What will I learn?

• why people complain and what they want to achieve by complaining
• how people react in situations of conflict and how this can give rise to behaviours that cause problems
• ways to de-escalate potential complaints and look at what can go wrong when concerns are responded to badly
• how an unacceptable actions policy (or equivalent) can be helpful in dealing with situations which become difficult

Participants will be given an opportunity to assess their own conflict styles and develop ways of managing their own personal ‘triggers’. We will consider a number of different theories and tools that can be helpful in managing conflict. The session will include a number of opportunities to put theory into practice and participants will be able to discuss their own particular concerns.


Updated: August 30, 2021