We’re committed to providing excellent customer service and we take complaints extremely seriously. We have processes in place to identify the reasons why we’ve not met our customers’ expectations and are working hard to resolve the issues driving complaints. Our latest complaints performance for the fourth quarter of 2015 covers the period 1 October to 31 December. It includes complaints to British Gas and 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

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%
Q3 2015
313,290
2,141
311,265
2,127
67.8%
91.9%
Q4 2015 250,751
1,714
251,630
1,720
57.2% 90.9%

How we're performing

Top five complaint reasons and plans to address

Top five complaint reasons

As a percentage of the total complaints received Q4 2014 Q1 2015 Q2 2015 Q3 2015
Q4 2015
Payments 25% 23% 23% 23% 23%
Billing
22% 24% 25% 20% 17%
Customer Service 16% 16% 14% 15% 14%
Metering
10% 10% 9% 11% 14%
Communication
7% 8% 7%
7%
7%

Payments

  • There are a number of things that can affect the number of payment related complaints we receive, which include seasonality, tariff changes and explanation of payment plans. We’re doing everything we can to make things simpler in this area. 

    What we’ve delivered:

  • We've written a new clear and simple payment plan letter which explains why customers' payments are changing.
  • We've given our agents more information on how our payment schemes work to ensure customers have the help they need when discussing their accounts.
  • We continue to review more than two million payment plans each quarter to ensure our customers are paying the right amount for the energy they're using.

Further actions we're taking

  • We're helping customers, who experience severe financial hardship and have no available funds to top-up their pre-payment meter by offering additional emergency credit. In the last quarter we assisted more than 3,000 eligible customers who received on average £26 emergency credit added to their meter to give them enough energy to power their homes, before they were able to top-up their pre-payment meter themselves.

Billing

We're committed to ensuring our customers have accurate and timely bills. We continue to review the reasons why customers complain about billing issues so we can resolve them.

What we’ve delivered:

  • We've installed more than 700,000 smart meters across Britain in 2015. Smart meters automatically send meter readings to us, so customers are issued accurate bills, and no longer receive estimated ones.
  • We've introduced a new process to increase the number of readings we are able to get from customer meters that are located in difficult positions to access, reducing the number of estimated bills sent.

Further actions we're taking

  • We're looking to make further enhancements to the look and feel of our customers' bills and how we explain account summaries.

Customer Service

We're investing £50 million in customer service over the next three years to further improve the service we provide.

What we've delivered:

  • We've introduced more specialists into our complaints teams who can deal with complex queries more quickly.
  • We're surveying customers who have complained to us and we're using their feedback to understand how we can improve our complaint handling processes.
  • We're calling customers who’ve made complaints to us via our website so we can quickly respond to their questions.

Further actions we're taking

  • We're testing a new way of working to make sure complaints are dealt with by the right people so customers experience a quicker resolution when they experience a problem.
  • We're reviewing cases where customers have complained more than once, to identify why this is happening, and what we can do to prevent it.

Metering

We’re committed to identifying and resolving the issues that may occur as a result of meter faults and exchanges.

What we’ve delivered:

  • We've continued to provide an 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 helped customers who've said their experience with us didn't meet their expectations. We continue to use this feedback to improve our services. 
  • Our dedicated support teams continue to help those customers who've not had a meter fitted during the initial visit due to technical reasons.

Further actions we're taking

  • We're rolling-out the installation of smart pre-payment meters to provide greater convenience to customers. During this period we installed more than 65,000 pre-payment smart meters.
  • We're working to improve all our customer journeys to help customers before, during and after their meter installation.
  • We're reviewing our processes and improving the way we handle those customers whose appointment needs to be rescheduled.

Communication

Communicating effectively with our customers is important to us.

What we've delivered:

  • We've updated the information we provide to customers on their bills and on our website, to make it clearer how they can get in touch with us if they need to complain.
  • We communicate with our customers using their chosen method of contact. We offer several contact options including 'webchat' which is now available during our opening hours.

Further actions we're taking

  • Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and we're reviewing all our correspondence to ensure it’s simple and clear.
  • We're reviewing what happens when emails are returned to us as “un-delivered”, to ensure we have robust processes in place so our customers receive paper copies of all the information they need about their bill.

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 2014 to 30th September 2015 this figure was 417,580.

[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%
Q2 2015 367,926 2,507 369,552 2,519 70.4% 92.8%
Q3 2015 313,290 2,141
311,265 2,127
67.8%
91.9%