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 fourth quarter of 2014 covers the period 1 October to 31 December. 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

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 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%

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 2013 Q1 2014 Q2 2014 Q3 2014
Q4 2014
Payments 19% 23% 21% 22% 25%
Billing
18% 23% 27% 26% 22%
Customer Service[3] 21% 17% 16% 16% 16%
Metering
10% 10% 8%
9%
10%
Communication
-
-
7%
7%
7%

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. 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:

  • We’ve changed the way we refund our customers who have a monthly payment plan with us to ensure that any credit on their account greater than £5 is returned to them following their 12 month review. 
  • In Q4 2014 alone, we reviewed over 3.2 million payment plans to ensure our customers are paying the right amount for the energy they’re using.  
  • In order to support our customers who pay for their energy using a prepayment meter, we’ve made improvements to proactively get in touch with them. This has helped to ensure that some of our most vulnerable customers are able to manage their outstanding debts. 
  • As it’s a key priority for us, 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

  • We’re continuing to make sure our prepayment customers don’t unknowingly build up a debt on their meter through their daily standing charge, by contacting  customers who we identify have not purchased any credit for a set period.
  • Where we’ve installed a new prepayment meter, we’re contacting some of our more vulnerable customers to support them with managing their consumption and making payments.
  • We continue to improve the way in which we explain payment plans to our customers.

Billing

Getting our billing right is crucial as it 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. We’re continuing to review the reasons behind why our customers complain so we can ensure a seamless billing experience. 

What we’ve delivered:

  • We’ve reduced the number of estimated bills we send each month by improving our meter reading processes and as a result, customers are receiving more accurate bills.
  • We’ve been able to prompt more customers to submit their own meter readings, another initiative in our drive to provide our customers with an accurate bill first time.
  • We’re continuing to provide our customers with tools to help them save money and be more energy efficient. These tools include our online  three simple tariff tools and Hive Active Heating.
  • We’re proud to continue to lead the industry with the installation of smart meters in our customers’ homes, with more than 121,500 smart meters installed during Q4 2014 and more than 390,000 installed in 2014.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re challenging ourselves to think of new ways to improve our customers’ billing experience, to increase the number of accurate, timely bills we send.
  • We’re reviewing our customer journeys, which will enable us to identify where things go wrong  and subsequently make the improvements required to ensure our billing experience runs as smoothly as possible.
  • The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is an initiative that we’re continuing to support and 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.

Customer Service

We’re continuing to prioritise and focus on initiatives to ensure we get things right for our customer first time, as we know that occasionally we can get things wrong and our customers don’t receive the level of service they expect.   

What we’ve delivered:·       

  • We are proactively contacting many of our customers each week to ask them directly about the end to end experiences that they have with British Gas. We’re using this Customer feedback to understand how we can make their experiences better and to track the impact of the improvements we are making.
  • Being there for our customers is important to us, so we’ve reviewed the working schedules for all of our call centre teams to ensure they’re there for our customers when they need us most.
  • We’ve increased the availability of webchat as a channel for our customers to interact with us if they wish to and more customers are now choosing this channel as a way to interact with us.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’ve doubled the size of our root cause analysis team to continue focusing on the reasons our customers complain and what we can do to prevent these events from occurring.
  • We’re investing time in our frontline people and managers by providing on-going training  to ensure our customers are treated fairly.
  • We’re trialling initiatives to get back in touch with customers who’ve left feedback when things haven’t gone as well as we would have liked, and we’re taking steps to ensure we put them right.

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 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 pro-active approach to contacting customers who’ve indicated that their recent interactions with us haven’t run as smoothly as they’d have liked.
  • We’ve improved communication to 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 continuing to review our smart meter installation programme and introduce efficiencies to improve the number of successful smart meter installations that take place.
  • 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:

  • Where we’ve been unable to deliver an email to a customer, and their preferred contact method is email,  we’re writing to customers to ask them to update their email details to ensure we can communicate with them through their chosen channel.
  • We’ve made improvements to our bill design and the messages we deliver to ensure that the reasons behind any changes we make are clear and transparent.

Further actions we're taking

  • We’re 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.

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%