Five million complaints a year just too many
Gas and energy firms are receiving up to 5 million complaints a year, most of which are caused by poor levels of customer service, according to newly published performance data from Ofgem.
Aspect’s Tony Hesketh believes that it’s not the dealing with the complaints that has become an issue – it’s reducing the number of complaints in the first place.
“Whilst we all feel a bit better at first when a company goes over the top to resolve a mistake or error, all we really want is a simple and speedy resolution,” said Hesketh, who is Director of Solutions Consulting at Aspect. “No-one likes to complain, in fact, the customer wants to extend as little effort as possible in order to receive exceptional service.”
He continued: “More often than not, customer complaints stem from bad service, rather than something actually going wrong. Customers expect glitches or problems to occur from time to time – the complaints arise when companies do not deal with those problems effectively and communicate with the customers.
“If a gas or energy company experiences delivery issues, it will dramatically reduce its complaints if it informs customers before they are even aware of the problem, with explanatory and helpful details, thus reducing the effort required of the customer. Social media is in fact coming a long way in delivering such messages quickly and in a widespread manner. But if the company does not inform its customers, they will notice the setback and the contact centre will be flooded with enquiries from irritated customers,” he said.
Hesketh concluded: “In a relatively simple manner, companies can personalise each customer’s experience and avoid complaints by using the data it holds about its customers for pre-emptive contact, or ‘next call resolution’. In this way, customers extend as little effort as possible, because an agent would automatically know that, for example, the customer got their bill the day before the call, and the likelihood is that that’s what they’re calling about. Problems are resolved immediately, and the customer is much less likely to complain.”