Best practices in building a public grievance redressal system

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As e-Governance applications and the associated awareness about ICT services & citizen rights grow in scope and coverage, the number of complaints and grievances are also likely to grow with it till the time sufficient practices and mechanisms are there for their disposal or redressal. While departments continue to have some form of complaint resolution mechanism, these systems often produce less than satisfactory outcomes from department’s perspective. The article proposes a collaborative approach to grievance redressal.



Building a grievance mechanism system is not just about creating a register for addressing complaints received from users of e-governance system, but also building trust and collaborative foundations when it comes to problem resolution. This requires support from all quarters and ingraining the right principles from the beginning which include:


  • Willingness by senior officers and management to sincerely champion the grievance system
  • Addressing grievances throughout the project is everyone’s responsibility.
  • Involve community and stakeholders in the design phase.
  • Ensure accessibility wherein grievance can be filed through multiple channel including face-to-face, IT systems, Telephone or written complaint.
  • Complainant should be made part of grievance redressal process and offered a variety of approaches to have his grievance redressed.
  • Identify a central point of coordination, and it should be well publicized.
  • The organization should provide a regular feedback to customer.
  • It is also important to analyse and track not only the issue received from system, but also the efficiency and awareness of grievance system as a whole

“There is only one chance to make a good first impression. It’s difficult

to get back on track after a project has problems.”

Designing a Grievance Redressal System

The way a grievance resolution system is designed is as important as the final form it takes, because the process establishes credibility and trust. It is a good idea to take collaborative approach, and discuss with the direct users of system.

Designing and implementing a grievance mechanism can be broken into 4 phases.

  • Phase – 1: Define scope and determine goals.
  • Phase – 2: Design – Assemble a preliminary plan that outlines purpose, goals, scope, resolution approaches, structure and specifics about how grievance mechanism will function.
  • Phase – 3: The community, stakeholders and department work together to introduce, refine and institutionalize the grievance mechanism.
  • Phase – 4: Monitor, report and learn.

Building Trust and Transparency

Having a grievance redressal platform is one thing, demonstrating the right intentions is another thing. Thus, following goals should also be in radar of the department when developing their grievance system:

  1. Set up grievance redressal mechanism as the first thing when starting a project
  2. Open channels for effective communication
  3. Promote productive relationship
  4. Mitigate and prevent adverse impact on stakeholder caused by department’s operations.
  5. Making stakeholders part of the process is also like taking “social license” when moving ahead with a change.

Features of Modern ICT platform for complaint redressal

Modern ICT platform for grievance redressal incorporate following practices:

  • Input of grievance are not only user friendly, but also identify right stakeholders for redressal.
  • The grievances are treated with criticality, and importance, as it is a sign of dissatisfied customer.
  • Redressal should be efficient. Delayed or specific kind of grievances are identified for auto-forwarding to right team/ person.
  • A dashboard for monitoring grievance statistics on regular basis including features for logging and presenting root cause analysis, drill down reports and trend analysis.
  • Transparency in the process: Department acknowledges the complaint by sending an email/ SMS. Complainant can know the status and expected time for redressal/ disposal of the issue.
Monitoring and Evaluation

While designing a ICT based application for complaint management, it should be convenient to obtain key metrices through a dashboard feature. Some of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are identified as under:

  • Average Complaints per Day
  • Disposal Rate
  • Average Disposal Time
  • Complaints disposed in 2 Hrs
  • Excellent/ Satisfactory Feedback
  • Complaint shared from different channels

In a bigger program where helpdesk persons are distributed and constitute a significant number, total persons deployed across regions may also be an important figure to observe so that processes can be designed for cost effectiveness and high efficiency.


In case there is a helpline where complaints can be taken through phone, following metrics can also be measured:

  • Average Call Handling Time
  • Language Support
  • Calls handled by Agent

MIS Support

Key ideas around designing MIS support are mentioned as under:


Office Analysis: Program which are executed from multiple offices at different location and are handling different volumes with different staff strength, office analysis can give key insights such as office receiving highest grievances. Department may consider all offices receiving more than 75% of grievances


Category Analysis: Identify categories that cause more than 60% of all grievances. Categorization to be done basis service causing issue, and the top issues. It is important to differentiate between suggestion, queries and complaints. There can be option for miscellaneous category to make list comprehensive. Giving a free text option instead of an objective list from which a citizen can choose from makes it tougher for redressal.



Focus Service Identification: In bigger programs, where number of complaints is often huge, it is useful to analyse issue with focus service and category. A good feature of grievance application can be random statistical sampling of defined volume for issues from each category so that they can be studied in detail for systemic improvements.

Use Case (Rail Madad from Indian Railways)

Indian Railways has introduced “Rail Madad” application for addressing commuters complaints. The application also won SILVER award in “Excellence in providing Citizen Centric Delivery” for 2019 from Government of India.  Some of the best practices incorporated in the application are:

  • A single integrated system for grievance, inquiry, assistance for all stakeholders.
  • Easy to access: Language options and mobile app option. One dial number “139” for multiple services.
  • Ease of registering complaints:
    • Complaints can be registered with minimum input
    • Simplified Categories to classify complaints
  • Redressal on fast forward – Message sent directly to field unit
  • Accountability – Unique CRN; Status Check and Feedback
  • Empowered Citizen Charter for trust and awareness of process.

Further Readings

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