Complaints are of huge importance to us as they show us where we’re not meeting our customers’ expectations. Our latest complaints performance for the second quarter of 2015 covers the period 1 April to 30 June. It includes British Gas and that of our partnership brand Sainsbury’s Energy.[1]

Quarterly complaints performance – British Gas Residential

Reporting period 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 2014 426,517 2,844 428,992 2,860 78.4% 95.6%
Q3 2014 405,556 2,725 403,809 2,713 77.3% 94.3%
Q4 2014 419,999 2,851 422,609 2,869 75.3% 94.0%
Q1 2015
446,766 3,051 439,796 3,003 75.1% 94.5%
Q2 2015 367,926 2,507 369,552 2,519 70.4% 92.8%

How we're performing

Top five complaint reasons and plans to address

Top five complaint reasons

As a percentage of the total complaints received Q2 2014 Q3 2014 Q4 2014 Q1 2015
Q2 2015
Billing 27% 26% 22% 24% 25%
Payments
21% 22% 25% 23% 23%
Customer Service 16% 16% 16% 16% 14%
Metering
8% 9% 10% 10% 9%
Communication
7% 7% 7%
8%
7%

Billing

Accurate billing is crucial as billing touches all of our customers at some point in their journey with us. Delivering on our promises and sending accurate and timely bills is really important, so we’re continuing to review the reasons behind why our customers complain so we can ensure we deliver a seamless billing experience.

What we’ve delivered:

  • We’ve undertaken training across the business to have better conversations around standing charges and the impact that they have on our customers.
  • We’ve continued to install smart meters in order to reduce the number of estimated bills with over 240K installed in 2015 so far.
  • We’ve undertaken a variety of targeted initiatives to encourage our customers to provide more regular meter readings in order to reduce the number of estimated bills we produce.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re introducing more proactive communications with our customers to reduce the impact of any unusually high bills.
  • We’re continuing with our initiatives to increase the number of bills we generate with actual meter readings as opposed to an estimated one, as we know this is a cause of concern for some of our customers.

Payments

There are a number of things that can affect the volume of payment related complaints we receive which include seasonality, tariff changes and explanation of payment plans, so we’re making it a priority to do everything we can to make our customers lives a little simpler in this area. 

What we’ve delivered:

  • In Q2 2015 alone, we’ve reviewed over 3.6 million payment plans to ensure our customers are paying the right amount for the energy they’re using.
  • It’s important that our Prepayment customers continue to top up their meter during the summer months even though they may not be using much gas, as the daily standing charge is still payable. We’ve attempted to contact our Gas customers who’ve stopped topping their meter up throughout the summer to ensure they fully understand the impact of not paying a standing charge in the summer months. 
  • We’ve expanded our vulnerability criteria and are attempting to make contact with customers who are showing signs that they may be struggling to top up their meter and not just customers who we think have run out of energy. This helps to ensure  that our customers won’t be left without an energy supply when they need it most.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re developing processes with our 3rd parties to ensure that we allocate our customers’ payments to their accounts more accurately when we receive standing orders with insufficient information about which account the payment should be made to.
  • We’re continuing to look at ways to improve customer understanding of how their payment schemes are calculated.
  • During the summer, we’ll be up skilling our agents to enable them to have better conversations with our customers about their payment schemes.

Customer Service

Whilst continuing to focus on a number of initiatives to ensure we get things right first time, we have also announced this quarter that we are making a significant financial investment in customer service over the next 3 years in order to support our drive to deliver excellent customer service.

What we’ve delivered:

  • We’ve continued to utilise customer feedback by proactively contacting customers to ask about their experiences with British Gas. This has not only allowed us to understand how to make these experiences better but has also highlighted areas where further improvement is required. 
  • We’ve continued to contact customers who’ve left us feedback to say things haven’t gone as well as they would have liked, so we can put things right for them.
  • We’ve developed a new quality assurance tool to give us access to detailed information about the quality of the service we offer to our customers. It will also help us to understand where we’ve failed to deliver against our promises and have let our customers down.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re continuing to invest time in our people and managers by providing on-going training and support around recognising customers who need us the most and ensuring that the right conversations are being had and appropriate action is being taken to support them.
  • The investment of £50 million committed to improving our customer service offering includes a commitment to recruit an additional 350 new customer service roles to ensure that we’re there for our customers when they need us.         
  • We’ll be proactively seeking feedback from some of our customers who’ve had the need to complain to us. This will give us direct insight into our customers’ experiences and help us to identify further areas where improvement can be made.

Metering

We’re working hard to identify and resolve some of the issues that may occur as a result of meter faults and meter exchanges, as we know that these drive complaints in this area. 

What we’ve delivered:

  • We’ve developed an improved escalation route for metering appointments when we’ve let a customer down, to ensure a new appointment goes ahead as soon as possible. 
  • We’ve contacted customers who’ve indicated that their recent interactions with us haven’t run as smoothly as they’d have liked, and we’ve used this feedback to drive changes in order to improve the service we offer. 
  • We have dedicated support teams to help customers where we haven’t been able to fit a meter during the initial visit due to technical reasons.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re continuing with our customer service programme to focus and drive improvements which include ensuring that meter installation appointments are being booked correctly and are completed on the first visit. 
  • We’re continuing to deliver new smart benefits to customers by introducing smart pre-payment meters and developing our post installation support.
  • We’re continuing to look at the key drivers of complaints within the metering world and are ensuring that actions and results are being tracked.

Communication

Communicating effectively with our customers is important to us

We’re continually reviewing all of the correspondence we send to our customers to ensure that the information provided is accurate, clear and timely.

What we've delivered:

  • We’ve continued to engage with our customers to ensure that we’re communicating with them using their chosen method of contact. We offer several different contact options including call, email, webchat and letter.
  • We’ve updated  the information we provide to customers on their bills and on our website to make it clearer on how they can get in touch with us if they need to make a complaint.
  • We’ve improved communication with our customers who are in the process of having a smart meter fitted to ensure they have relevant information to hand regarding their appointment, what to expect on the day and the benefits of having a smart meter installed.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re reviewing what happens when emails are returned to us as “un-delivered”, to ensure that we have robust processes in place so our customers receive all the information they need about their bill.
  • We’re reviewing the correspondence we send to our customers when we need to read their meter to ensure that it is clear and easy to understand, thereby increasing the number of customers who are at home when we call.

Annual Consumer Complaint Report

View our Annual Consumer Complaint 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 2013 to 30th September 2014 this figure was 368,057.

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

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%
Q2 2014 426,517 2,844 428,992 2,860
78.4% 95.6%
Q3 2014 405,556 2,725 403,809 2,713 77.3% 94.3%
Q4 2014 419,999 2,851 422,609 2,869 75.3% 94.0%
Q1 2015 446,766 3,051 439,796 3,003 75.1% 94.5%