Customer behaviour policy - guide for customers - annex 2

Published: 06 June 2024
Freedom of information class: How we manage our resources

This is annex 2 referred to in RoS customer behaviour policy.

1. Defining customer behaviours that we will manage

1.1. Registers of Scotland (RoS) understands that customers who engage with us are normally dealing with an issue in relation to the registration of their or their client’s land or property. We acknowledge that this can be stressful and that they sometimes may act out of character. However, RoS takes the importance of our work very seriously. Whilst we will provide the best customer service we can to our customers, we do not expect our colleagues to tolerate unacceptable behaviour.

1.2. Dealing with behaviours such as those defined below, detract from the service that RoS offers and places a significant burden on the organisation. Dealing with unacceptable behaviours diverts necessary resources from delivering our core business and services.

1.3. These include:

Unreasonable persistence

1.4. Sometimes an individual will contact RoS repeatedly about the same issue or closely related issues. Whilst individually these contacts may be quite acceptable, the persistence of the approach takes up a disproportionate about of time and resources in exchanges that are unproductive to either party. Such cases will be considered as unreasonable persistence and examples of such behaviour include:

  • Serial complaining – lodging complaints about the handling of their complaints, often across different parts of the organisation
  • Refusal to follow proper process
  • Causing disruption by excessive contact in relation to information about their land/and or property without clear acceptance of the updates previously given.

Conclusion of the complaints handling procedure

1.5. Once a customer has exhausted the RoS’ Complaints Handling Procedure they will be informed about the appropriate route of appeal which is the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). If they continue to correspond with RoS in relation to the same matter without following the appeals process, then consideration will be given to restricting contact with that customer under the terms of this policy.

Dissatisfied with a registration decision

1.6. Where a customer is dissatisfied with a decision taken by RoS in relation to the registration of their land or property. They may submit a request for rectification via the Post Registration Team or make an appeal to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland. Where customers continually contact us about their dissatisfaction of a registration decision where neither of the above processes has not been instigated consideration will be given to restricting contact with that customer under the terms of this policy.

Unreasonable demands and levels of contact

1.7. RoS provides an impartial registration service for the people of Scotland. Sometimes people can make unacceptable demands on our resources by the nature and the scale of the service that they expect.

1.8. The number of times we are contacted, or the duration of each contact, can cause problems for our colleagues. The level of contact may become unacceptable when the amount of time spent talking to an individual on the telephone, or responding to, reviewing, and filing emails or written correspondence, means we struggle to deal with that complaint, or with other correspondence.

1.9. Examples of such behaviour may include:

  • Repeatedly demanding responses within an unrealistic timescale
  • Insisting on speaking to a particular RoS colleague, even when it is not possible
  • Making repeated calls on one day or repeatedly making very long calls
  • Frequent emails about the same issue or repeatedly sending emails with large amounts of information attached that is irrelevant when a matter is closed
  • Sending in new complaints before we have had an opportunity to address earlier complaints.

1.10. It will be judged to be an unreasonable demand and level of contact when it reaches the point of disrupting our ability to undertake our work or is amounting to harassment, bullying or unacceptable treatment of our colleagues. Consideration will then be given to restricting contact with that customer under the terms of this policy.

Offensive, threatening, and abusive behaviour

1.11. RoS operates a zero-tolerance approach on any kind of offensive, threatening and abusive behaviour. This will include any action that is designed to insult or degrade. This includes but is not limited to being racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, bi-phobic or language that causes any offence will be managed under this policy.

1.12. The use of derogatory language that alleges that individuals have committed criminal, corrupt or perverse conduct without any supporting evidence will be deemed unacceptable. This also includes unfounded allegations about an individual’s professional ability or capacity or seeks to belittle or unfairly criticize them.

1.13. Documents sent to RoS, which are not aimed at us but at a third parties are still unacceptable because of the effect that listening or reading them may have on our colleagues.

2. How we will manage these behaviours in practice

2.1. There are currently four main ways in which to correspond with RoS. By telephone, in writing (email or post), our website and via our social media channels.

Named contact process

2.2. To ensure that RoS provides consistent customer service and that we make best use of our resources, once a customer displays any of the above behaviours, (excluding offensive, threatening and abusive behaviour whereby we will consider restricting access immediately) we will assign them with a named single point of contact.

2.3. As part of this process, we will write to the individual to inform them of this, and explain that all future correspondence and telephone calls will be channelled through a single person of RoS’ choosing. This will also explain that we are not at this point restricting any access to the individual but managing their contact centrally. Once a person has a named contact the named contact may choose to limit contact to a certain channel such as email. This will be done in line with the customer’s personal support requirements.

2.4. There is no time restriction as to how long an individual may be subject to having a named contact, but RoS will review our position at least annually as required. Named contact status will be removed once any outstanding issue(s) is resolved.

2.5. Once RoS has taken a final decision about the reason for the customers contact we will advise the customer of that decision including any statutory route of appeal they may wish to take. If the customer continues to contact RoS regarding the case rather than pursue the appropriate next steps, then RoS will consider restricting contact with the customer under the terms of this policy.

3. Application of the customer behaviour policy

3.1. Once a customer has been considered to be behaving unreasonably and/or unacceptably under the terms of this policy, RoS will decide whether that person should have restricted access to our services and/or whether we should manage their correspondence differently. We can choose to restrict contact in a variety of different ways – by the subject matter, to a named colleague, contact channel used or a combination of these.

3.2. In all cases we will appoint a named contact to manage any existing and future correspondence from these individuals. Details of how we will manage this correspondence is narrated within section 7.

3.3. Each circumstance that RoS will apply the Customer Behaviour Policy is different. If a review period is appropriate, this will be stated within the letter informing the customer of this. If a review period is not stated the customer should expect to be subject to the Customer Behaviour Policy indefinitely.

3.4. Where the customer is subject to the policy indefinitely, we will only consider lifting any restrictions, other than through the appeal process, when something significant has changed. For example, where the Customer Behaviour Policy is applied to a customer who is unaccepting of a decision for registration, this will only be able to be reviewed when something significant has changed, such as a Lands Tribunal for Scotland determination.

3.5. RoS will impose restrictions where we think that it is necessary to protect our colleagues or our services from the behaviours outlined in this policy. Examples of restrictions that we can take include:

Access restricted on a property, land and/or title number

3.6. RoS may take the decision to apply the Customer Behaviour Policy to a specific property, area of land and/or title number where multiple parties (sometimes multiple) are persistently contacting us about the same issue. We may refuse to communicate in respect of a particular application for registration, where we have undertaken our statutory obligations and any potential resolution of the issue is outwith RoS’ control.

3.7. Once the Customer Behaviour Policy has been applied to a specific property, area of land and/or title number, RoS will not enter into any further correspondence about the specific application for registration in the absence of either a registrable deed, new evidence that has not already been considered, or a judicial determination.

3.8. This does not affect customers ability to purchase information about the property, land or title or their ability to obtain information under statutory mechanisms.

Access restricted to specific people

3.9. We will refuse to communicate with specific individuals following offensive, threatening or abusive behaviour. Once the Customer Behaviour Policy has been applied, RoS will not enter any further correspondence other than to facilitate any requests for information that fall under our access to information obligations, submit an application for registration, or to purchase a product or service from RoS.

3.10. If the offensive, threatening or abusive behaviour persists we will consider blocking specific customers from accessing any RoS channels or to only accept communications via a third-party.

Access restricted to specific channels

3.11. We may choose to restrict the way that a customer can contact us by channel. For example if the customer is placed on the Customer Behaviour Policy due to unreasonable telephone contact, we may decide to route their calls to a recorded message that informs them that they are subject to the Customer Behaviour Policy and that they have been informed that we will only correspond with them in writing. We will inform the customer of this and manage this by routing their emails directly to their named contact.

3.12. If the customer is placed on the CBP for unreasonable persistence on our social media channels, we will moderate any comments and not publish them on our website/social media channels/webinars.

Process of restricting contact

3.13. Customers will be informed of this decision in writing explaining the rationale for the decision and how their ongoing contact will be managed.

Ability to appeal a decision to restrict contact

3.14. It is important that such decisions are subject to a clear appeals process. An individual will be able to appeal in writing, or other recorded formal channel, against a decision to restrict contact. If they do this, we will consider only arguments that relate to the restriction and not to the subject matter of their contact with us.

3.15. Grounds for appeal could include, for example, where an individual believes that:

  • Their actions were wrongly identified as unacceptable
  • The restrictions imposed were disproportionate
  • The restrictions will adversely impact on the individual because of personal circumstances

3.16. The Appeal will be considered by a senior member of RoS staff who has not been involved in the original decision.  They have discretion to remove or vary the restriction as they think is appropriate. They will make the decision based on the evidence available to them. They must then inform the individual in writing, or in another recorded format, that either the restricted contact arrangements still apply or that a difference course of actions has been agreed.

3.17. A decision on an appeal will normally be issued within 20 working days.

3.18. If following a review, the person remains dissatisfied with the decision reached, they may approach the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). The SPSO’s contact details are:

4. Managing ongoing customer contact

4.1. Once a customer has reached the threshold of RoS restricting access, their contact will continue to be managed through their named contact or we will appoint  one if one had not been appointed previously.

4.2. On receipt of any further correspondence, the appointed named contact will consider if the matter is in relation to the area in which our policy applies to the individual and if so, the correspondence will not be acknowledged. If the request does require a response, the correspondence will be acknowledged and passed onto the appropriate part of the business to be dealt with. A record of the customer behaviour list will be held centrally by customer experience and a review of the contacts will be undertaken regularly.

5. Equality, diversity and inclusion

5.1. RoS is committed to providing services that are accessible to the broadest range of customers. Our service commitment encompasses our legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Where a customer is behaving in an unacceptable manner, we must consider whether this may be caused by any personal difficulties or characteristics that they have that may be making our services more difficult to access or use.

5.2. In these circumstances, we will apply reasonable adjustments, but RoS may still determine that it is appropriate to restrict access to a customer who has rights under the Equalities Act 2010 under the terms of this policy.

6. Further actions

6.1. In addition to the actions described in this policy, RoS reserves the right to take any further action that may be appropriate in order to protect colleagues from unacceptable customer behaviour. Where appropriate, this may include reporting behaviour to Police Scotland or taking legal action. Any decision to report a customer's behaviour to a third party will be taken by a senior manager following advice from relevant information governance and/or legal colleagues.

6.2. Whist instances are very rare, sometimes a customer’s behaviour can cause significant alarm, distress or concern that a criminal act may have taken place or be about to take place. When such situations arise, we will consider reporting the matter to Police Scotland or other relevant authorities. We will base our decision on an assessment of risk. The underlying principle will be the need to protect colleagues and others from harm or the threat of harm.

6.3. A colleague encountering behaviour of this type should inform their manager immediately. We will consider reporting incidents whereby:

  • A RoS colleagues is being harassed, and/or is subject to a criminal act by a customer
  • A customer threatens to harm to a colleague, colleagues in other organisations, members of the public or themselves
  • A customer has acted in a way that is otherwise malicious or vexatious to the extent that intervention is regarded as necessary.

6.4. If there is reason to believe there is an imminent threat to life, we will call the emergency services. When we have decided to report an incident, we will document and record it as part of the ongoing customer contact information.