There is no excuse - technology can manage the end-to-end process and recover service reputation whilst providing vital, potentially revenue generating businesses data
25 November 2011 – With EDF Energy under the review of Ofgem, and npower and British Gas fined over £2 million each for failing to manage customer complaints effectively, Paul Elswood, chairman of customer complaints management specialist, CDC Software and Mathew James, a respected independent customer service consultant, have called on the energy sector to end customer service misery.
Speaking openly to those responsible for managing customer complaints Mathew James, director of Mathew James Customer Care Solutions explained: “There will always be complaints. What matters is how a complaint is managed; how the customer is handled and the processes that lead to a speedy and comprehensive resolution.”
“A well-managed complaint is potentially worth millions of pounds in future revenues,” continued Paul Elswood, president, CDC Software EMEA. “The information provided during the complaints process should be recorded and analysed for several reasons. Firstly, the root cause of a widespread customer issue can quickly be established and resolved. Secondly, best practice can be established to cut the time and cost of managing future complaints.
“However, by failing to manage customer complaints, customer-facing businesses are not only likely to lose customers, but also valuable customer intelligence which can generate future revenues,” continued Paul Elswood. “The feedback provided by a customer provides a here and now insight into the business and a level of real time intelligence that cannot be achieved through other means. The scope for competitive advantage is huge.”
By recording and analysing customer feedback, a business is given an up-to-the-minute view of the businesses. The information can be used to put right weaknesses in the business, to improve customer communications, reduce the volume of future complaints, but also to develop new revenue generating products and services.
Software tools, such as CDC Respond from CDC Software, are widely used by customer facing organisations including Electricity North West, which owns, operates and maintains the North West’s electricity distribution network. It was one of the first 14 regulated electricity networks in the UK.
According to Stephanie Rourke, connections enquiries manager at Electricity North West, “The step-by-step process driven by CDC Respond allows us to manage our process to deliver the regulatory requirements of the CEAR Act when dealing with customer information requests or complaints.”
“Each step is guided by the fields set-up in the software. All communications are recorded and can be analysed at any point during the processes. We can also export data directly into the Ofgem reporting templates, demonstrating that processes are being followed. This is invaluable in the case where a complaint is escalated to the regulator,” explained Stephanie Rourke.
One of the requirements of the CEAR Act, under which energy companies must operate, is to ensure that the customer has been informed of the complaints process and the remedial steps that have and will be taken to show compliance with the regulation this is easily traced within the system and jeopardy reports ensure compliance.
“From an intelligence and administrative perspective, CDC Respond has also proven to improve efficiency and to highlight choke points within our processes that create dissatisfaction with our customers. The uniform data collation means information can be shared easily between departments, therefore reducing handoffs and interfaces for the customer,” continued Stephanie Rouke of Electricity North West.
Tools, such as CDC Respond, provide customer facing businesses with the ability to manage and respond to customers as individuals, or as groups of similarly affected customers. Controls can be put in place to ensure that every step of the complaints management process, from initial information gathering, through to the point of resolution is recorded.
“Reports generated from customer feedback can be used to improve the business, but also to demonstrate to regulators that all efforts are being made to rectify customer issues and to put in place effective customer complaints management processes,” concluded Paul Elswood, president, CDC Software.