The utilities sector is one in crisis. The customer is losing faith in the provider, and in turn the provider is losing the customer. With customer loyalty shrinking and the urge to switch increasing, adapting a communication strategy to fit the needs of the customer is more crucial than ever before.
A prime example of such a change in tactics is British Gas, who, it was reported this week, is set to close one of their five UK call centres by the end of the year. The company say that the doubling of self service transactions and the implementation of smart meters have led to a drastic change in customer communication habits, and as a result fewer customers have been calling them. One third of all their customers, British Gas claim, now choose to communicate with the brand online. But is this change in strategy the right move? Are the energy giants equipped to handle such a change in customer behaviour? After all, it was only early last year that British Gas were fined by industry regulators Ofgen for the mishandling of customer complaints, a punishment the company claimed to be “disproportionate” to the damage caused. So how is the company manage those communicating through email?
A multichannel survey carried out on over 100 UK service providers began to shed some light on their, and others in the industry’s performance.
The survey, which recorded levels of customer satisfaction on a range of communication channels, highlighted that UK energy providers in general perform poorly when handling customer queries through email. It reported that on average 80% of customer emails were responded to, yet only 40% were considered helpful or relevant to the complaint, leading to an increase in follow up emails and calls from the customer.
So what can we take from these results? When evidence points to a change in customer behaviour, companies must not only adapt to the change, but tailor their services in such a way that creates a seamless transition for the customer. The question remains; can British Gas and others in the industry demonstrate service that pleases customers, regardless of the channel they choose to communicate? Share your thoughts below!