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British Gas improves complaints data transparency

British Gas is announcing changes that will increase transparency around its complaints data, and is calling on all other energy suppliers to follow its lead as soon as possible. The aim is to ensure that customers can accurately compare levels of customer service between energy suppliers for the first time.

Energy suppliers are currently required to publish an annual customer complaints report on their websites by 31 October each year. However, there is currently no agreed format for complaints reporting in the energy retail sector, other than the total number of complaints that a supplier was unable to resolve on the same day or by the next working day.

In addition to reporting the number of complaints unresolved on the first or following day, British Gas is now publishing a quarterly update, which includes:

  • Complaint volumes per 100,000 domestic energy customer accounts
  • The percentage of complaints resolved on the same or next working day
  • The percentage of complaints resolved within eight weeks
  • The volume of complaints accepted by the Ombudsman Services: Energy

British Gas is also publishing the five main reasons customers have complained during the quarter, and has set out clear actions it is taking to tackle the issues behind those complaints.

British Gas is making changes to its complaints data reporting in response to research the company undertook*, which showed 90 per cent of customers want a simple, consistent method of comparing energy supplier complaints data.

Ian Peters, Managing Director of Residential Energy at British Gas, said:

“Energy customers want to be able to compare energy suppliers on service as well as price. Simple, easy to compare information helps customers make an informed choice about their energy supplier. British Gas has set out a clear way of reporting complaints data. We are calling on all energy suppliers to adopt the same standard so that customers can, for the first time, make a meaningful comparison of customer service levels.”

British Gas complaints data

Last year, there were nearly 22 million e-mails, letters and calls to British Gas from its customers. Of these, 319,234 were complaints from domestic energy customers that could not be resolved by the end of the next working day. More customers are now communicating with British Gas via e-mail and the web. This means it can take more than one day to conclude a conversation and resolve the complaint, but also means it is more convenient for customers.

Annual complaints reporting – 1 October 2011 to 30 September 2012

Number of complaints unresolved by end of next working day

319,234

Unresolved complaints by end of next working day per 100,000 energy accounts

2,033

% of customer accounts with an unresolved complaint**

2%

Commenting on British Gas’ total number of complaints that a supplier was unable to resolve on the same day or by the next working day Ian Peters, Managing Director of Residential Energy at British Gas, said:

“We want to resolve customer complaints as quickly as possible, but we believe it’s more important to investigate thoroughly, fix things at the first complaint and fix properly – without the need for further complaints – even if this takes us a little longer.

“That’s why we’ve started to do things differently this year, including communicating with more customers via email. Many customers find this more convenient. We are embracing this change, even though this means it sometimes now takes a little more time for the conversation to conclude. This change will inevitably be reflected in our current complaints data, but we are happy to put customer service first.”

Quarterly complaints reporting

Q2 2012

Q3 2012

Number of complaints we received per 100,000 energy accounts

2,249

2,064

Number of complaints we resolved per 100,000 energy accounts ***

2,271

2,062

The percentage of complaints we resolved on the same working day or next day

78%

79%

The percentage of complaints we resolved within eight weeks

96.5%

95.3%

Number of complaints accepted by the Ombudsman Services: Energy

208

221

The top five issues behind complaints in Q2 and Q3 this year from customers were: payment issues; billing; debt; metering; and customer service. British Gas has already been taking steps to address these concerns – for example, by introducing a new, clearer bill and through British Gas’ online EnergySmart toolkit. British Gas believes the key to significantly reducing complaints is ensuring actual, accurate bills through smart meters, and in this area British Gas is leading the industry with more 600,000 smart meters installed to date in its customers’ homes and businesses.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:
  1. * Populus interviewed 2,053 GB adults online between 5 and 6 March 2012. Results have been weighted to be representative of all GB adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For more information see www.populus.co.uk
  1. ** This means that for every 100,000 energy accounts we supply, we received 2,033 complaints - equivalent to 2% of the energy accounts we supply – needed further action at the end of the next working day
  1. *** The number of resolved complaints can be higher than the number of complaints received in a specific quarter because not all complaints are resolved in the same quarter as they were received
  1. The British Gas quarterly complaints report, whichcompares Quarter 2 (April-June 2012) to Quarter 3 (July-Sept 2012) and annual complaints report can be found here www.britishgas.co.uk/howwearedoing

Media contact: British Gas press office 0800 10 77 015

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