Our latest complaints performance for the second quarter of 2014 covers the period 1 April to 30 June. It includes British Gas and me (mobile energy) performance and that of our partnership brand Sainsbury’s Energy.[1]

Quarterly complaints performance – British Gas Residential

Complaints
received

Received per
100k customer accounts

Complaints
resolved

Resolved per
100k customer accounts

% resolved
same or next working day

% resolved
within 8 weeks

Q2 2013 264,928 1,696 264,186 1,691 72.1% 93.9%
Q3 2013 247,000 1,582 244,819 1,568 71.6% 93.8%
Q4 2013 365,735 2,412 363,511 2,397 75.9% 96.3%
Q1 2014 462,334 3,084 461,421 3,078 79.5% 96.2%
Q2 2014
426,517 2,844 428,992 2,860 78.4% 95.6%

How we're performing

Top five complaint reasons and plans to address

Top 5 complaint reasons

As a percentage of the total complaints received Q2 2013 Q3 2013 Q4 2013 Q1 2014
Q2 2014
Billing 23% 20% 18% 23% 27%
Payments 27% 23% 19% 23% 21%
Customer Service[3] 9% 8% 21% 17% 16%
Metering
9% 10% 10%
10%
8%
Credit Management[4]
11% 10% 6% 6% 5%

Billing

We know that accurate billing is very important to our customers. The complaints we receive relating to billing predominately fall into three categories: disputing the amount billed, understanding the information that is displayed on the bill and queries relating to their tariff.

What we’ve delivered:

  • The introduction of our online, three simple tariff tools is aimed at making our customers lives a little easier by providing:
  • A Tariff Comparison Rate that lets you compare gas and electricity prices to quickly see what the best rate is and which one's right for you and your home.
  • A Tariff Information Label which gives you the key facts you need about your tariff upfront and in one place.
  • A Personal Projection which gives you a personalised cost estimate based on your previous energy consumption.
  • We continue with our campaign to raise awareness of Hive Active Heating, a mobile-based remote heating and hot water control. This innovative product enables customers to better connect their lives to their energy usage at home and can save customers up to £150 on their heating bills: you don’t even have to be a British Gas Energy customer to benefit.
  • We believe that the key to reducing billing complaints will be reducing the number of estimated bills we produce. Smart meter technology ensures our customers receive accurate bills without submitting a meter reading, as the smart meter will automatically send us regular and accurate readings of our customers’ energy use. We continue to lead the industry with the installation of smart meters, with over 79,500 smart meters installed during Q2 2014 and more than 1 million installed to date. Our plans are to continue this rigorous programme during 2014.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re continuing to look at the effectiveness of how we feed meter readings back into our billing system in order to generate bills, with the view to improving the process and enhancing customer satisfaction.
  • Supporting the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) initiative continues to be a key priority for us, enabling households to reduce their energy consumption.  We’ve already invested hundreds of millions of pounds in free or subsidised loft and cavity wall insulation for people who need it most. You don’t have to be a British Gas customer to apply, so check online to see if you could benefit or call 0800 107 7793.

Payments

Payment related complaints can be linked to seasonality, tariff changes and explanation of payment plans, so we’re reviewing what we do to ensure that we make our customers’ lives a little simpler.

What we’ve delivered:

  • To ensure our customers are paying the right amount for the energy they’re using, we review plans at least twice a year. This includes an interim review 6 months into the plan, and an annual review which normally takes place at 12 months. In Q2 2014 alone, we reviewed over 4 million payment plans. We know that when we adjust payment plans, some of our customers get in touch to understand the changes we’ve made.  
  • To ensure we look after our prepayment customers when they need us most, we now try to make contact with our customers whom we suspect to have run out of credit. These conversations have meant that we have been able to help our most vulnerable customers in a number of ways including getting them back on supply, changing their meter or putting them in touch with our energy trust.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re continuing to make changes to our refund policy. We know that our customers are all different and that some don’t want us to automatically refund credits at their annual review.
  • We’re continuing to review our reassessment process to look at new ways to proactively manage our customers’ experiences. Such initiatives include calling our customers and explaining changes in advance, new bill messages and online personal videos.
  • An on-going review of our communications to our customers is taking place to ensure that we explain things in a straight forward and easy to understand way.
  • To make sure our prepayment customers don’t unknowingly build up a debt on their meter through their daily standing charge, we will be proactively contacting customers who we identify have not purchased credit for a set period.

Customer Service

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.

What we’ve delivered:

  • After high call volumes earlier this year, we’ve made big investments to improve the speed in which we answer our customers’ calls. As a result, we’ve seen an improvement in the level of service we’ve provided and a reduction in the number of complaints we’ve received in this area.
  • We do know that it’s important for us to be there for our customers and respond to them quickly and efficiently, so we’ve made enhancements to our systems and continued supporting and developing our people, in order to get things right.
  • We’ve launched our new Customer Assurance Framework, which provides our people with additional coaching and feedback on the way that they’ve handled our customer calls, letters and emails.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re launching a new learning programme for our customer facing people, where we’ll revisit what we need to do in order to deliver great customer service.
  • We’re investing in our Team Managers by rolling out further learning programmes to support them with developing their teams.
  • We’re continuing to focus our efforts on understanding the reasons why our customers complain, and analysing and improving our processes in order to enhance customer experiences.

Metering

We know that metering complaints can be linked to the number of meters being exchanged or where a customer experiences a fault with their meter.

What we’ve delivered:

  • We’ve developed a customer service programme to focus and drive improvements which includes ensuring that jobs are being booked correctly and are completed on the first visit. 
  • We’ve introduced a number of improvements to our systems to help us ensure we keep our appointments on track and improve on the number of successful visits we complete. 
  • We’ve undertaken a successful trial to reduce the number of meter installation visits that are not completed where the meter is not accessible to us.

Further actions we're taking

  • 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 raising awareness around the benefits of smart technology before we install smart meters in our customers’ homes.

Credit Management

This is an area of increasing concern for our customers, with more finding themselves in a challenging financial position. We are committed to supporting those people most in need of help during these challenging economic times.

What we’ve delivered:

  • 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 that 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 8,000 consumers through the British Gas Energy Trust, awarding more than £5.9 million in grants to help with outstanding bills and replacement household goods.
  • We continue to 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.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re continuing with our plans to extend the number of Energy Advice Centres we provide to support our customers.
  • We’re working closely with third party agencies such as Step Change Debt Charity to help customers with wider financial struggles. Should you need help in this area, you’ll find links to their online benefits checker and debt remedy tool on our website.
  • We’re investing in technology to help us identify and provide support  for our customers who need it most.

Annual Consumer Complaints Report

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.

For the reporting period 1st October 2012 to 30th September 2013 this figure was 299,057.

[1] Sainsbury's Energy is supplied in partnership with British Gas (part of British Gas Trading Limited).

[2] Previously reported volumes have been amended retrospectively by the Ombudsman Services: Energy following re-categorisation after investigation.

[3] Customer Service complaints have been re-categorised from Q4 2013. 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. 

[4] Previously known as debt.

Complaints
received

Received per
100k customer accounts

Complaints
resolved

Resolved per
100k customer accounts

% resolved
same or next working day

% resolved
within 8 weeks

Q1 2012 437,124 2,778 435,779 2,770 79.4% 95.7%
Q2 2012 352,882 2,249 356,262 2,271 78.3% 96.5%
Q3 2012 323,191 2,064 322,869 2,062 79.0% 95.3%
Q4 2012
355,998 2,285 359,494 2,308 79.2% 96.3%
Q1 2013 357,887 2,295 354,456 2,273 78.7% 95.9%
Q2 2013 264,928 1,696 264,186 1,691 72.1% 93.9%
Q3 2013 247,000 1,582 244,819 1,568 71.6% 93.8%
Q4 2013 365, 735 2,412 363, 511 2,397 75.9% 96.3%
Q1 2014 462,334 3,084 461,421 3,078 79.5% 96.2%