Utility Company in Hot Water

If keeping your customers happy doesn't come quite as naturally as you’d hope in your business, then maybe the fire that Scottish Power has come under will spur you on to improve or polish your existing customer service protocols.

The energy giant found themselves in hot water with Ofgem, the government regulator for the gas and electricity market in Great Britain. They conducted an investigation into how Scottish Power handles it’s customer’s complaints, handle customer calls and conduct their billing, during the implementation of a new IT system.

The company has been handed a fine of £18 Million to compensate vulnerable customers who were failed by the way their queries or complaints were dealt with, with £15 Million to be paid to callers who were affected. The investigation found that customers had been treated unfairly and that there was little in place to protect them from the havoc that arose when Scottish Power implemented their new IT system.

If you’re part of a small company then hopefully your complaints department receives minimal calls, Scottish Power can’t say the same and received a staggering 1 MILLION complaints between June 2013 and December 2015. The reasons for the complaints varied but were mainly surrounding the unacceptably long periods in which customers were placed on hold when trying to contact the supplier, callers had to make several attempts or wait for extended periods of time before they were able to speak to an advisor.

The trouble arose when the new IT system didn’t perform as it should have, increasing complaints to the company. However it wasn’t just the increased volume of complaints that has caused Ofgem to step in, but also the way these were dealt with and the time it took to resolve them. A simple update to your on hold marketing to acknowledge that there is a higher volume of calls than usual or that you’re aware of a problem, could help to keep customers peachy during a longer wait.

There’s also lesson to be learned here, you need a solid contingency plan for all aspects of your business but particularly for when you introduce something new, do you have a back-up plan if something goes wrong? You should treat your customers with the same high level of service no matter what dilemma the company is facing!

This is the perfect time to highlight how important communication is, whether it’s a quick post on social media, a mailshot or postal campaign - don’t forget to cover the phones! As we recently wrote, the phone is still the most effective and efficient method for customers to contact businesses, so adding a message to your On Hold Marketing to keep callers in the loop about news or company updates is vital and shows you’re prepared.

So if this story has got you panicking then it’s time to make sure your on hold is current, that you’re fully prepped on a backup plan and that your team know the importance of excellent customer service!