Complaints - How we're doing
Our latest complaints performance for the first quarter of 2014 covers the period 1 January to 31 March. It includes British Gas and me (mobile energy) performance and that of our partnership brand Sainsbury’s Energy.
Quarterly complaints performance – British Gas Residential
Top 5 complaint reasons
|As a percentage of the total complaints received||Q1 2013||Q2 2013||Q3 2013||Q4 2013||Q1 2014
The issues our customers have within the billing category predominately relate to disputing the amount billed, understanding the information that is displayed on the bill and queries relating to their tariff.
We’ve introduced a new fairer pricing structure in order to help consumers better understand and more easily compare tariffs across the energy industry. We’re always looking for ways to make life easier for our customers, which is why we’re introducing three simple tools to make sure our customers have all the information they need to compare their energy options.
We’ve continued to raise awareness of Hive Active Heating, a mobile-based remote heating and hot water control, which enables customers to better connect their lives to their energy usage at home.
We believe that the key to reducing billing complaints will be the reduction of estimated bills. We continue to lead the industry by installing smart meters in customers’ homes, with over 81,000 smart meters installed during Q1 2014 and more than 947,000 smart meters installed to date. Our plans are to continue this rigorous programme during 2014. This will help lead to more accurate billing.
Actions we're taking
- We’re working on improving our SMS prompt process, making it easier for our customers to provide their meter readings by SMS.
- As part of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) initiative, we’re investing hundreds of millions of pounds in free or subsidised loft and cavity wall insulation for people who need it most. Check online to see if you could benefit or call 0800 107 7793 – you don’t have to be a British Gas customer to apply.
- We’re introducing a new section to our bills that gives our customers key facts about their tariff, so they can see the information they need upfront when they want to compare with other tariffs.
Payment-related complaints can be linked to seasonality, tariff changes and explanation of Direct Debit plans. We review payment plans at least twice a year: an annual review which normally takes place at 12 months, and an interim review at 6 months. Additional reviews can take place after a price event to ensure we pass on a price change as quickly as possible.
In Q1 2014 we reviewed over 7.4 million payment plans. We do this to make sure plans are as accurate as possible and this can mean some payment plans are adjusted more regularly. When we carry out a review, some of our customers get in touch to understand the adjustment we’ve made.
Actions we're taking
- We’re looking at our refund policy to identify further opportunities for improvement. We’re also looking at other ways to enhance customer choice and experience in this area.
- We’re improving the written communications we send to our customers regarding their payment schemes, with the view to making them simple and easy to understand in order to improve customer satisfaction.
- We’re planning to re-train our teams, to ensure they’re able to effectively manage customers' payment reassessments. This will help to ensure that any changes made are in our customers' best interest.
We know that sometimes our customers don’t receive the level of service they expect from British Gas. This can cover concerns about the level of service we’ve provided, or the actions we've taken. This area continues to be a key priority for us as we strive for service excellence, getting things right for our customers first time and keeping every promise we make.
Over the last 12 months we’ve upgraded our systems and up-skilled our people. This year, we plan to make further enhancements to our systems and develop our people in order to get things right for our customers.
The high call volumes experienced during Q4 2013 continued into Q1 2014, impacting the speed at which we answered our customers’ calls. This ultimately contributed to an increase in the number of customer service complaints we received, specifically those relating to higher than acceptable call waiting times. Recovery plans were implemented, which had a positive impact on our call answering performance and has contributed to a decrease in the volume of complaints received in this area.
Actions we're taking
- We’re continuing to invest in our front line customer service teams to reduce the time it’s taking to respond to our customers and resolve their enquiries and complaints.
- We’re focusing our efforts on understanding the reasons why our customers complain, and analysing and improving our processes in order to enhance customer experiences.
- With our new quality assurance framework now in place, we’re monitoring performance and working with our teams to gain valuable insight, which will help us further improve the service our customers receive.
Metering complaints can be linked to the number of meters being exchanged or where a customer experiences a fault with their meter. We’ve developed a customer service programme to focus and drive improvements which include ensuring that jobs are being booked correctly and are completed on the first visit.
Actions we're taking
- We’re introducing a dedicated team to manage meter installations and keep our appointments on track.
- We’re continuing with our root cause to understand the key drivers of metering complaints and plans have been developed to ensure that actions and results are being tracked.
- We’re looking at ways to engage our customers, so they are aware of the benefits of smart technology before their new meter is installed.
We know that this is an area of increasing concern, with more customers finding themselves in a challenging financial position.
Through our British Gas Energy Trust, we continue to work with Citizens Advice, Shelter and other agencies to provide face to face help through localised Energy Advice Centres across the country. Additional funding is being provided to some of our new and existing partner organisations. This will allow for more advisers to work with GPs and Health professionals in order to make this facility more accessible to consumers needing help.
So far in 2014 we have helped more than 4,000 consumers through the British Gas Energy Trust, awarding more than £3.1 million in grants to help with outstanding bills and replacement household goods.
We offer help and advice to customers who are having difficulty paying for their energy and look to agree an affordable repayment amount, whilst ensuring that all appropriate services are offered, including discussing the best tariff available.
If you're having trouble paying your gas or electricity bill you can find further information in our ‘Lots of Ways to Pay' booklet.
Actions we're taking
- The British Gas Energy Trust is extending it’s energy advice services with community partners. It will increase funding from the current 15 centres to 19 centres and will continue to work hard to reach out to promote these services.
- We’re continuing to promote the Energy Company Obligation, Green Deal and energy efficiency advice as ways to help customers reduce their energy bills.
- We’re also working closely with third party agencies such as Step Change Debt Charity to help customers with wider financial struggles.
- We’re now able to transfer customers straight through to the Step Change advice line for further financial advice and support with debt management (including benefits assessment). Alternatively, you’ll find links to their online benefits checker and debt remedy tool on our website.
View our Annual Consumer Complaints Report, which details how we’ve performed in relation to the number of complaints we weren’t able to resolve on the same, or next working day.
 Sainsbury's Energy is supplied in partnership with British Gas (part of British Gas Trading Limited).
 Previously reported volumes have been amended retrospectively by the Ombudsman Services: Energy following re-categorisation after investigation.
 Following guidance from Ofgem, Customer Service complaints have been re-categorised from our Q4 2013 publication. Increasing our Q4 2013 volume in this category by approx. 43,000 and Q1 2014 by approx. 36,000. Volumes prior to Q4 2013 have not been retrospectively adjusted.
 Previously known as debt.