Sunday, 3 March 2013

SSE's Customer Service Guarantee

In my job I spend quite a bit of time on the phone to energy companies with my clients, trying to help them sort out their bills, repayments, house moves, supplier changes, you name it.  It can be a frustrating task, and I've heard certain pieces of hold music more than any person really should.  The quality of customer service varies enormously, and it can be a real problem when we can't get the answers we need to sort things out.

Let me tell you about my own experiences recently.  When we moved house, we kept our old energy supplier.  Somewhere along the line, a different energy company ended up supplying us gas for a month, and my new/old company tried to tell me about this online.  Unfortunately, my online account wouldn't log in to my new address, because I used the same email for my old address.  Eventually we found out what had been going on, and got the gas transferred, and the online billing sorted out for the new address, which involved shutting down the online account for the old address.  Then I got a letter about my old address, telling me they had been trying to contact me, I owed them large amounts of money, and they wanted to take me to court.  It took me a few phone calls, being told a whole selection of rubbish, before we finally sorted out that a) I didn't owe them anything, b) they owed me, and c) they'd been trying to contact me through my online account for the old address - the one that doesn't work any more.  We sorted out a new bill, and the customer service advisor promised me it would be sent by post, because I can't get into the online account.  Guess what? I got an email, and no letter.  Great stuff there.

Right now, I'm wishing I hadn't changed energy suppliers.  Partly because I've not got any confidence in them any more, and partly because if I'd been supplied by one of the SSE group (SSE, Scottish Hydro, Southern Electric, Swalec & Atlantic), I'd be a little bit better off now.  SSE have launched a new Customer Service Guarantee, and if they fail to meet their promises, they'll give you £20 off your next bill.  I can't argue with that, £20 is a nice bit of cash, and very welcome.

Their promises are simple.  They're committed to:

  • Finding ways to save you money.  If they have a deal that will save you money, they'll let you know.
  • Making life easier for you.  If they say they'll call you back, they will.  Which also saves you hanging on the phone while they look into the ins & outs of your account.
  • Helping when you need them most.  If you're having difficulty paying, they'll work out a payment plan with you that meets your needs.
I phoned SSE a few weeks back, with one of my clients, and I can honestly say that they met every one of those commitments.  They checked she was on the best tariff for her needs, they worked out a short term payment plan, and made longer term suggestions for how to manage her bills, and they called me back after checking things out, rather than leaving me listening to endless repeats of Damien Rice's Cannonball.  In fact, I'd say they went one step further, as they made sure both me & my client understood everything, how the bills were calculated, what she needed to do, and what her options were in the future.  We all went away from that call a lot clearer and happier about the situation.

If you want to know more about SSE's Customer Service Guarantee, they've put together a video to explain it in a bit more detail.

I'm hoping other utility companies follow SSE's lead, it would certainly make my working life a bit easier.  There's no big secret to good customer service, you just have to remember that customers are people, and treat them how you'd want to be treated.  Sounds so simple, doesn't it?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.  I was not told what to write, all opinions are my own, and the experiences detailed above are genuine.

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