Our commitment to our customers
As a network operator delivering an essential service to over 3.8 million customers in the north of Scotland and central southern England, providing excellent customer service is at the heart of everything we do.
As we enter National Customer Service Week, I want to highlight some of the improvements we’ve made, and continue to make, to improve the service we provide to all of our customers.
Gathering customer and stakeholder views is critical to us as a business to help us understand the needs and wants of our stakeholders as our industry transforms, delivering the smarter, more flexible networks to power communities, and empower lives.
This past year, we gained insight through stakeholder feedback and usage data, that told us our customers’ preferred method of communication was changing at a rapid rate. More and more customers were moving from traditional methods such as telephone, email and letter, to digital channels like social media, our Power Track app, text messaging and even voice assistants.
In response to the growing need for an improved digital experience, we had to transform the way we worked to ensure we’re ready to support our customers now and in the future.
We strive to make it easier for our customers to contact us during a power cut, and that’s why this summer we launched WhatsApp as a contact channel, with the service already used over 5,800 times to contact us. With WhatsApp for Business released earlier this year, we were one of the first large companies to launch the service, and the first network operator amongst the industry to offer this contact method. Customers can reach us directly on WhatsApp, but we also send them a text with a link after they speak to us on the phone so they can contact us directly if they have any further questions without the hassle of having to call us again.
For over two years running, we’ve consistently ranked 1st of all Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) for overall score on the Sitemorse INDEX and this year we’ve topped the energy index too, being recognised as the most accessible website of any UK energy company. Sitemorse, an independent auditor, looks at user experience and accessibility, rating functionality, performance and overall quality of our website. With more and more customers turning to digital channels to contact us, it’s vital they’re fit for purpose.
We also launched ReciteMe, a toolbar function allowing customers to adapt our website to their needs including over 100 language filters, increased font sizes, different fonts, colour changes and even the ability to read pages directly including the description of images. We also launched an Easy Read version of our Priority Services Register leaflet which is now available on our website, helping make our priority services more accessible to all.
These changes were developed following feedback from our Inclusive Service Panels, with the outputs from these panels instrumental in our shortlisting for the ‘Diverse Company of the Year’ award at the prestigious National Diversity Awards. With over 700,000 customers on our Priority Services Register, and many with additional communication needs, it’s crucial the services we provide are fully inclusive to all, reflective of the communities we serve, and we continue to look for ways to improve.
Our social media satisfaction scores are improving year on year, currently sitting at 93%. But it isn’t all about statistics and scores; meaningful customer feedback from those using our services is vital to help us provide the services our customers want, need and expect. On social media, you can expect a response in under 10 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We want our customers to know they can contact us at any time of any day and our teams will be on hand to respond. We were delighted to be shortlisted as finalists for the ‘Most Effective Use of Social Media’ at the CCA Global Awards, independent recognition that our digital strategy is delivering for our customers.
We recognise, however, that when things don’t go to plan, we need to ensure we resolve complaints as quickly as possible and take lessons learned to ensure we provide the best possible service going forward. In 2018/19, we ranked 1st for complaints handling across all Distribution Network Operators, streamlining our processes and procedures to ensure those working for us have the knowledge and tools to recognise signs of dissatisfaction, striving to resolve complaints at the first point of contact. We’ve also worked closely with other companies, outside of the energy networks industry, to share best practice and improve customer experience.
It’s been a great year for our customer service and stakeholder teams, recognised by achieving two service industry standards including the national standard, ServiceMark from the Institute of Customer Service, a national measure of customer satisfaction across 13 key sectors. We also achieved compliance with the BS 18477:2010 Inclusive Service Provision standard for the fourth year running, recognising that our policies, procedures and services are accessible and fair to all customers.
While we pause to reflect on our achievements over the past year, we know we’ve got more work to do, ensuring the service we provide our customers keeps pace with their changing wants and needs, putting customer and stakeholder feedback at the heart of everything we do.