Responsibility

British Gas Customer Board: over 30 improvements in a year

  • British Gas Customer Board reports back on progress over the last 12 months
  • British Gas expands its feedback from customers through the development of ‘Your World’, a 50,000-strong online panel of UK customers

British Gas has received feedback from its Customer Board about progress against the five recommendations set out in 2010.

In the last year, the British Gas Customer Board has continued to give impartial feedback on topics from simplifying the tariff portfolio to smart metering, as well as a revised bill and annual statement design.

More than 30 significant changes have been made, and more innovations will be introduced as a direct result of British Gas talking with its customers.

Customers have benefited from:

  • New bill design: the focus has been shifted from what a customer needs to pay to the ways in which they can save money, as well as a reduction in clutter and jargon, and a simplified snapshot of energy use
  • Reduction in the number of tariffs: these are down to just two tariff types, fixed and variable
  • ‘Video Chat’: British Gas was the first energy company to launch the trial of a customer service tool, which allows customers a face-to-face experience with customer service agents
  • More than 500,000 smart meters installed in homes and businesses: customers can compare their gas and electricity use by the hour, day, week and year and set their own energy targets
  • Launch of Remote Heating Control: British Gas customers can now control their central heating remotely using either the internet or mobile phone

Extending its commitment to listening to customers, British Gas has also now developed ‘Your World’, a new 50,000-strong online panel that will allow British Gas to share ideas and gather even more insight about what people want from their energy company, and their views on specific products and services.

Progress in customer service has been recognised by Which?. According to its recent research (published on 19 July 2012), British Gas customers are receiving the clearest, top-rated bills, payment policies and account management in the energy sector, topping the list with a five-star rating.

Ian Peters, managing director of residential energy at British Gas, said:

“Our customers are already seeing the benefit the ongoing opinions, insight and challenges of the Customer Board. The frank and honest feedback we have received has been hugely valuable, and has made a real impact on the way British Gas serves its customers.

“This year, the Customer Board has played a key role in redesigning our bill and our tariffs. Listening to customers is vital. That is why we are complementing the valuable work of our Customer Board with ‘Your World’, a 50-000 strong online panel of people across the UK.”

Ann Robinson, Chair of the British Gas Customer Board and Head of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, said:

“The British Gas Customer Board continues to work with the business to ensure British Gas remains focused on the needs of its customers. We are pleased with the excellent progress that British Gas has made in meeting the challenges we set in our five-point plan."

Since 2010, British Gas has worked extensively with customers, both directly and through its Customer Board and has engaged consumer advocacy groups such as Which? and Consumer Focus and its 30,000 employees.

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

1. To read the feedback we’ve received from our customers and our progress to date, download a copy of the Customer Panel Feedback Reporthttp://www.britishgas.co.uk/blog/

2. The British Gas Customer Board, set up in 2010, is made up of a group of nine customers, all passionate about the rights of fellow consumers. Chaired by Ann Robinson, Head of Consumer Policies at Uswitch.com, they give a real voice to the direction of British Gas. Through regular meetings with Ian Peters, Managing Director Residential Energy, they provide the business with insight into the customer’s thoughts and will continue to hold British Gas accountable to the five recommendations made by the Customer Panel in 2010:

a. Revolutionise customer service
b. Simplify the bills
c. Make pricing easer to follow
d. Be open and proud – let customers see the real British Gas
e. Lead Britain to a low carbon future

3. Your Worldis an online panel consisting of 50,000 people (customers and non-customers). Panellists are currently being recruited and, from the end of summer, you will be able to join at www.britishgas.co.uk.

4. Progress highlights against Customer Board five-point plan

A. Revolutionise customer service
  • Improvements for Direct Debit customersincluding viewing their actual versus forecasted usage (in both kilowatt hours and cost), checking the status of their payment plan and likely year-end balance, increasing or decreasing their monthly instalments, making one-off payments, requesting refunds and taking payment holidays
  • First energy company to launch ‘Video Chat’- a customer service tool which allows customers a ‘face-to-face’ experience with call centre agents
  • Customers can now manage their energy account online, at the touch of a button using the British Gas App including comparing their energy consumption with neighbours
  • New online appointment bookingsystem allows services customers to manage appointments using their laptop, PC or iPhone
  • Face-to-face appointmentsas an alternative option to phone calls, focusing on providing advice on managing energy use effectively, along with discussion about our energy, services, central heating instillation, insulation and solar PV products
  • Ending all cold call field sales
  • New referral scheme, ‘Share the Warmth’, which offers £50 to anyone who refers elderly, or vulnerable family, friends and neighbours to British Gas for free loft or cavity wall insulation
B. Simplify the bill
  • Newly designed bill. The focus has been shifted from a demand for money to a means of saving the customer money, as well as a reduction in clutter and jargon and a simplified snapshot of energy usage
  • New tariff comparison tableon Annual Statements, proactively encouraging customers to think about the tariff they’re on and how they might save money by switching to a new tariff
C. Make pricing easier to follow
  • Single unit ratefor consumption alongside a fixed standing charge, brought together in a new “clear and simple” tariff.
  • Reduction in number of tariffsdown to just two tariff types, fixed and variable. The overall product range has also been reduced to 6
D. Be open and proud – let customers see the real British Gas
  • Continued investment in educating future generations on managing energy, throughGeneration Greenschools programme, giving over 13,000 teachers access to free teaching resources, and 10,000 schools the chance to win major sustainable technologies
  • Largest participant in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, with 834 employees learning new skills last year
E. Lead the company and customers to a low carbon and greener future
  • Over 500,000 smart metersinstalled in homes and businesses allowing customers to compare their gas and electricity use by the hour, day, week and year, set their own energy targets and a traffic light system will warn households when they are using large amounts of electricity
  • Launched Remote Heating Control, allowing customers to control their central heating remotely using either the internet or a mobile phone
  • Personalised energy advicefor thousands of households with smart meters tailored to the individual circumstances of each household. Trial will extend to 10,000 of British Gas smart meter customers over the next six months
  • Partnership with Thames Waterto promote energy-saving and water-saving products to Thames Water and British Gas customers
  • Since 2008, the average British Gas customer is now using 22% less gas and 4% less electricity, as a result of the company’s commitment to insulate its customers homes, provide free energy saving advice, and install efficient boilers
  • One of the first organisations to sign up to be a Green Dealprovider from October 2012
Media contacts:

Adam Seddon: 020 7260 2700 / adam.seddon@bluerubicon.com

British Gas press office: 0800 10 77 015

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