Over half of the UK population have now adopted video calling, whether through Skype, Apple Facetime or another outlet into their everyday lives.
Face-to-face conversations are now as easy with someone on the other side of the globe as they are with a next door neighbour and talking face-to-face with someone, rather than into a handset, can make a real difference.
That's why we are revolutionising our customer services at British Gas by becoming the first energy company in the UK to offer customers face-to-face customer service calls via video chat.
As the country's largest energy provider, we're piloting a scheme that will enable customers to see the customer service advisor they are dealing with, from the comfort of their own home via internet-enabled video calling. This move follows the advice of independent research, which showed that 66% of customers believe that being able to see a customer service agent will help resolve their queries more quickly.
Ian Peters, Managing Director, British Gas Energy, said: “We know that household budgets are stretched and that customers want clear and simple help to make sure they are getting the best deal. We're testing the use of video chat with our customers, offering them new ways to talk to us about the energy they are buying, their energy use and help with energy efficiency to keep bills down.
“We hope that our online face-to-face pilot will not only make our support and advice as transparent as possible, but will also allow us to add an even more personal touch to the service we offer our customers.”
The initial trial will last for three months and video chat will be offered to some customers who have questions about their bill, need tariff information or would like to resolve complaints. The pilot will involve 20 customer service agents, based in our Leeds and Southampton contact centres, who have volunteered for specialist training to take part in the cutting-edge trial.
The new video chat trial has been welcomed by Dr Peter Collett, psychologist and former don at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, who commented:
“Psychological studies have long shown the importance of communication through body language and seeing the whites of the eyes of the person you're speaking to. Hand gestures and facial expressions are so important and build rapport, relationship and mutual understanding within the context of otherwise transactional conversations.
“It's great that British Gas is leading the way to rebuild trust in the energy sector by using technology to explain things to customers in an innovative and transparent way.”
The new pilot is part of British Gas' Honest Conversation with our customers, which includes a commitment to being simple, transparent and fair in all our dealings with customers, and which has already seen the company streamline tariff types (to just two) and improve the information on customers' bills with a full breakdown of costs – including British Gas' profits.
You can find out more about the Honest Conversation at facebook.com/britishgas.