Our latest complaints performance for the third quarter of 2014 covers the period 1st July to 30th September. 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

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% 94.8%

How we're performing

Top five complaint reasons and plans to address

Top 5 complaint reasons

As a percentage of the total complaints received Q3 2013 Q4 2013 Q1 2014 Q2 2014
Q3 2014
Billing 20% 18% 23% 27% 26%
Payments 23% 19% 23% 21% 22%
Customer Service[3] 8% 21% 17% 16% 16%
Metering
10% 10% 10%
8%
9%
Communication[4]
- - - 7% 7%
Credit Management[5]
10% 6% 6% 5% -

Billing

Billing touches all of our customers at some point in their journey with us, so getting it right is crucial.  We know that it’s important for us to deliver on our promises and send accurate and timely bills, so we’re working hard to get things right for our customers and reduce the number of billing complaints we receive. 

What we’ve delivered:

  • We’ve undertaken a review into what causes complaints in this area and have a clear plan in place to ensure that we get things right and reduce the need for our customers to complain.
  • We’ve introduced a number of initiatives to improve the speed and accuracy in which meter readings are fed into our billing system to ensure our bills are accurate.
  • Our online three simple tariff tools continue to support our customers by providing:
  • A Tariff Comparison Rate that lets you compare gas and electricity prices to quickly see what the best rate is and which tariff'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’ve continued with our campaign to raise awareness of Hive Active Heating, a mobile-based remote heating and hot water control which enables users to better connect their lives to their energy usage at home. This product can save customers up to £150 every year on their heating bills and you don’t even have to be a British Gas Energy customer to benefit.
  • We know that the key to reducing billing complaints is to reduce the number of estimated bills we produce. With this in mind, we’re continuing with our plans to install Smart meter technology in our customers’ homes. This ensures we provide accurate bills without the need to submit meter readings, as a smart meter automatically sends us regular and accurate readings of our customers’ energy use. We’re proud to continue to lead the industry with the installation of smart meters, with more than 105,000 smart meters installed during Q3 2014 and more than 1.1 million installed to date.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’ve already introduced improvements to the look and feel of our bills, but we’re planning to make further changes to ensure that the information we provide is simple and easy to understand.
  • We’re looking at how we can reduce the number of estimated bills we send, which we know will help support our drive to reduce complaints in this area.
  • 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 Q3 2014 alone, we reviewed over 3.7 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. 
  • As well as supporting our credit meter customers, it’s really important that we look after our customers who pay for their energy using a prepayment meter. We now try and contact our customers whom we suspect have run out of credit and so far, we’ve attempted to contact more than 86,000 customers by text message, letter or telephone. These interactions with our customers have enabled us to help some of our most vulnerable customers in a number of ways including helping them to manage outstanding debt and getting them back on supply. 
  • We’ve continued to work closely with the Energy Trust team to ensure that extra support is given to our customers who need it most.

Further actions we're taking

  • To make sure our prepayment customers don’t unknowingly build up a debt on their meter through their daily standing charge, we’re continuing to proactively contact customers who we identify as having not purchased credit for a set period.
  • We’re continuing to look at ways we can help to protect our vulnerable customers to ensure they stay on supply when they need it most.
  • We’re looking at ways we can make it easier for customers to pay, giving them a choice that’s convenient for them.

Customer Service

We know that occasionally we can get things wrong and 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. We’re continuing to strive for service excellence by prioritising and focusing on initiatives to ensure we get things right for our customers first time and keep every promise we make.   

What we’ve delivered:

  • We’ve invested in ensuring we can respond to our customers’ calls quickly and efficiently. We’ve already 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’ve introduced web-chat as an additional channel for our customers to use, should they wish to discuss any issues they may have; more customers are now choosing this channel as a way to interact with us.
  • Our 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, has now been embedded across our customer service teams.   

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re continuing to focus on understanding the reasons our customers complain and what we can do to prevent these events from occurring.
  • Further learning programmes continue to be rolled out across our business to our front line teams and Team Managers, in order to support our drive to get things right for our customers and to ensure that where mistakes have been made, we take prompt and efficient action to resolve these.

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, so we’re working hard to identify and resolve some of the issues that may occur during these customer journeys.

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 completing a pre assessment of the meter location with the customer prior to meter installation appointments. This has reduced the number of installations that are not completed on the first visit because the meter was not accessible to us.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re enhancing our systems to improve our end to end customer journey and increase the successful number of SMART meter installations that take place.
  • We’re continuing with our root cause to understand the key drivers of metering complaints and are ensuring 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, and during install, we ensure that our engineers demonstrate the SMART energy monitor so our customers can take full advantage of the technology at their finger tips. 

Communication

We know it’s important to communicate effectively, and that quite rightly our customers expect high standards with regards to clear and easily accessible information. With this in mind we’re continually reviewing all of the correspondence we send to our customers to ensure that the information provided is accurate and timely.

What we’ve delivered:

  • We review payment plans at least twice a year to make sure that when we write to our customers to explain changes in their payments, the information we provide is as clear and accurate as possible.
  • We’ve made improvements to our bill design and the messages we deliver to make sure that the reasons behind any changes we make are transparent.
  • We now provide all of our customers with an annual statement so they can easily understand and view their energy consumption for the previous year.

Further actions we're taking

  • We are continually reviewing our communications to our customers to ensure that we explain things in a straight forward and easy to understand way.
  • We’re continuing to review our reassessment process to look at new ways to proactively manage our customers’ experiences. Such initiatives include: providing a personal projection plan to enable our customers to calculate their consumption; increasing the accuracy of payments; and calling our customers to explain any changes in advance. We’re also keeping our bill messages up to date and using online personal videos to support our customers.
  • We’re reviewing the processes we follow for issuing bills to ensure that they reach our customers in a timely manner.

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).

[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] Our top 5 complaint reasons table has been retrospectively amended for Q2 2014 to show Communication as one of our top five reasons for complaints in that quarter.

[5] 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%
Q2 2014 426,517 2,844 428,992 2,860
78.4% 95.6%