How we’re doing with your energy complaints

We take every complaint seriously because we want to give you excellent service. So we’re working hard to understand where we are going wrong so we can fix the issues that are driving complaints.

Our latest report is for the third quarter of 2017 (1st July to 30th September 2017).

The complaints we’ve included are from our residential customers, as well as the customers we have through our partnership brand Sainsbury’s Energy.[1]

Meeting your Expectations - An update on our complaint improvement activities by Mark Hodges (PDF 247 KB)

How we're doing

Q3 2016

Reporting period

Q3 2016

Complaints received

214,558

Received per 100k customer accounts

1,518

Complaints resolved

213,095

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

1,507

% resolved same or next working day

53.9%

% resolved within 8 weeks

90.6%

Q4 2016

Reporting period

Q4 2016

Complaints received

220,532

Received per 100k customer accounts

1,555

Complaints resolved

218,728

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

1,542

% resolved same or next working day

50.5%

% resolved within 8 weeks

91.0%

Q1 2017

Reporting period

Q1 2017

Complaints received

204,071

Received per 100k customer accounts

1,463

Complaints resolved

203,060

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

1,456

% resolved same or next working day

50.1%

% resolved within 8 weeks

89.9%

Q2 2017

Reporting period

Q2 2017

Complaints received

192,399

Received per 100k customer accounts

1,393

Complaints resolved

193,147

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

1,399

% resolved same or next working day

50.4%

% resolved within 8 weeks

89.8%

Q3 2017

Reporting period

Q3 2017

Complaints received

173,350

Received per 100k customer accounts

1,304

Complaints resolved

176,437

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

1,327

% resolved same or next working day

51.3%

% resolved within 8 weeks

89.3%

What happened in Q3 2017?

  • There was a decrease in complaints received per 100K customer accounts compared to the last quarter and there was 19% reduction on the same time the year before
  • We resolved a total of 176,437 complaints in Q3 which is 1,327 complaints per 100k customer accounts
  • We’ve seen an increase in the number of complaints resolved on the same or next working day compared to last quarter. We have invested in customer service as well as looking at ways to improve our processes and systems and training our people; this has helped to drive a reduction in simpler complaints leaving more complex complaints which can often take longer to resolve
  • We saw a slight decrease in the number of complaints we resolved within eight weeks compared to the last quarter
  • We received 1,335 Ombudsman complaints. That’s only 13% of the residential customer complaints the Ombudsman has taken on from every supplier – and we have a residential energy customer account market share of around 27%

What does the Ombudsman do?

They take on complaints if we haven’t resolved them after eight weeks or if we’ve sent a final position letter to a customer.

We continue to work closely with them to gain more insight and to understand why customers escalate their complaints to them, as well as ensuring our internal policies and procedures are improving to reduce the need for escalation to a third party.

Top five complaint reasons and plans to address them

Payments

As a percentage of the total complaints received

Q3 2016

24%

Q4 2016

24%

Q1 2017

22%

Q2 2017

24%

Q3 2017

22%

Billing

As a percentage of the total complaints received

Q3 2016

18%

Q4 2016

15%

Q1 2017

18%

Q2 2017

19%

Q3 2017

18%

Customer Service

As a percentage of the total complaints received

Q3 2016

13%

Q4 2016

14%

Q1 2017

14%

Q2 2017

13%

Q3 2017

15%

Metering

As a percentage of the total complaints received

Q3 2016

12%

Q4 2016

15%

Q1 2017

15%

Q2 2017

14%

Q3 2017

13%

Communication

As a percentage of the total complaints received

Q3 2016

8%

Q4 2016

8%

Q1 2017

7%

Q2 2017

8%

Q3 2017

8%

Payments

Lots of things affect how many complaints we get about payments like seasonality, tariff changes and how we explain payment plans. So we’re doing everything we can to make things simpler.

What we’ve done:

  • We’ve completed 3.3m reassessments of payment schemes this quarter to ensure that our customers’ payments will meet their anticipated consumption
  • We’ve made changes to ensure that our customers’ payment schemes are reassessed when they expect them to be
  • We’ve improved our processes to ensure that we promptly refund any overpayment when our customers leave us

What we’re doing:

  • We’re improving the experience for our customers when we set up a new payment scheme
  • We’re making things clearer when we write to our customers about their payment scheme
  • We’re only going to contact our customers about their payment scheme when there’s a change we need them to be aware of

Billing

We’re always looking at the reasons why our customers are unhappy about billing issues, so we can figure out how to fix them.

What we’ve done:

  • Where SMART meters aren’t working we are contacting customers and asking them to take a meter reading so we can ensure an accurate bill whilst we work on fixing the meter issues
  • We’ve addressed an issue we had communicating with our customers to ask for meter readings. This will increase the number of bills we can send with accurate (as opposed to estimated) meter readings
  • We’ve made changes to the way we present information in our bills and statements, to make it clearer for our customers to see how much energy they have used and how much this is costing them
  • We’ve seen a significant decrease in the volume of billing complaints as we continue to focus on identifying and dealing with issues up front that could result in a delay or an issue with our customers receiving their bills on time
  • We’ve improved our access to and identification of meter reads which are provided using different formats. This has also resulted in the ability to send more accurate bills to our customers
  • We’ve improved our meter appointment visit timescales so we can now offer customers a visit earlier than we were previously able to do so

What we’re doing:

  • We’re reviewing the customer billing experience so we can look at ways of making further improvements
  • We’re looking at ways to improve our website and our app to make it easier for our customers to see what’s happening on their account
  • We’re reviewing the emails we send when bills are ready to view online to make sure our customers are aware of important information when we send it

Metering

We always do our best to fix problems our customers have with their meters as we know that this can cause a lot of inconvenience.

What we’ve done:

  • We’ve installed more than 390,000 Smart meters across Britain in quarter three (June – September 2017)
  • We have listened to feedback received about the energy efficiency advice provided and trialled new techniques for providing energy saving information & tips
  • More appointments have been made available to meet expected customer demand including trials at weekends
  • We are continuing to upgrade our existing Smart meter customers with the technology which will ensure their meters will work when we switch over to DCC (Data Communications Company) and enable customers to move to other suppliers and keep the benefits of their current smart meter. This upgrade is also helping us fix any current issues our customers have been experiencing

What we’re doing:

  • We are trialling offering customers evening smart meter installation appointments
  • A programme to improve delivery of Smart meters to our customers has commenced. This should make installation of smart meters quicker and help reduce complaints further

Customer Service

Focusing on initiatives to ensure we get things right for our customers first time continues to be a priority for us.

What we’ve done:

  • We know customers like to have the flexibility to interact with us without having to make a phone call.  We’ve therefore increased the number of people available to deal with our web chat enquiries
  • We’ve continued to ask our customers who’ve complained, for feedback on how we’ve handled things so we can identify where we need to make further improvements

What we’re doing:

  • We’re undertaking a significant programme looking at how we can further improve our handling of customer enquiries and complaints, in order to resolve concerns as quickly as possible
  • We’re making it easier for customers to interact with us by introducing improved texting functionality across our business

Communication

Communicating well with our customers is really important to us and we’re working hard to make sure we get things right.

What we’ve done:

  • We’ve been testing new technology and innovative ways to get in touch with our customers in order to resolve their complaints. We’ve seen some positive results so we’ve extended these trials, and are continuing to monitor the results

What we’re doing:

  • We’re always looking at further ways we can improve the correspondence and bills we issue as we want to make sure they’re clear and easy to understand
  • We’re working to make further improvements to the experience our customers have when they visit our website
  • We’re reviewing how we receive and respond to emails from our customers so we can improve this process

Previously reported complaints performance

Q1 2015

Reporting period

Q1 2015

Complaints received

446,766

Received per 100k customer accounts

3,051

Complaints resolved

439,796

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

3,003

% resolved same or next working day

75.1%

% resolved within 8 weeks

94.5%

Q2 2015

Reporting period

Q2 2015

Complaints received

367,926

Received per 100k customer accounts

2,507

Complaints resolved

369,552

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

2,519

% resolved same or next working day

70.4%

% resolved within 8 weeks

92.8%

Q3 2015

Reporting period

Q3 2015

Complaints received

313,290

Received per 100k customer accounts

2,141

Complaints resolved

311,265

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

2,127

% resolved same or next working day

67.8%

% resolved within 8 weeks

91.9%

Q4 2015

Reporting period

Q4 2015

Complaints received

250,751

Received per 100k customer accounts

1,714

Complaints resolved

251,630

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

1,720

% resolved same or next working day

572%

% resolved within 8 weeks

90.9%

Q1 2016

Reporting period

Q1 2016

Complaints received

269,061

Received per 100k customer accounts

1,866

Complaints resolved

265,360

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

1,840

% resolved same or next working day

56.5%

% resolved within 8 weeks

91.4%

Q2 2016

Reporting period

Q2 2016

Complaints received

225,236

Received per 100k customer accounts

1,574

Complaints resolved

227,489

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

1,590

% resolved same or next working day

51.8%

% resolved within 8 weeks

90.3%

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 2016 to 30th September 2017 this figure was 388,668.

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