Social customer service: the people behind the tweets

Laurence Hilton, Head of Digital, Online at British Gas discusses how customer service is evolving to meet the needs of customers through social media.

Laurence Hilton, British Gas

Laurence Hilton
Laurence heads up social media for British Gas and is also responsible for ensuring that our customers have brilliant and coherent experiences, regardless of how and where they interact with us.


The way we communicate with each other has evolved rapidly over the last few years. We all use phones, emails and texts, but the emergence of messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and social networks has created new ways for us to interact with each other.

As well as enabling communication with friends and family, social platforms like Facebook and Twitter have also allowed customers to talk to brands, share their experiences and seek help with any problems they may have. This has given companies like British Gas an opportunity to listen, talk to our customers and resolve a range of queries.

Meet the British Gas Social Customer Care Team

Our dedicated Social Customer Care Team of 14 (based in Leeds) has grown over the last year to meet the growing demand of our customers through social media. The entire team is specially trained to deal with customer queries and complaints via social media and have experience in other areas of the business too, meaning they can swiftly answer questions on everything from debt advice to moving house.

We are committed to turning each and every customer interaction into a positive experience with a great outcome; we try and respond to customers as quickly as possible and work hard to resolve issues first time. The team work extended hours so help is available morning, noon and night – and even on Christmas Day!

Where an issue can’t be resolved quickly, the agents are trained to handhold it to resolution, making a customer’s entire experience feel more personal and human. As team member Matthew points out, “at the end of the keyboard or computer is a real person who is here to help.”

The results have been really impressive, with 85% of people rating their interaction with our team as ‘Excellent’.

Here’s what some of our agents had to say about the work they are doing:

Danny: “Social media gives our customers an immediate and direct response and they’re not restricted to only being able to contact us during their lunch break – just a quick tweet from their phone means they can carry on going about their day until we get back to them.”

Waseem: “We’re now trained to resolve services queries, so we’ll be able to book appointments, check appointments and chase it up without having to contact another department within British Gas. I love the work we do –you turn a negative into a positive, and you do it there and then. That’s the rewarding bit... taking ownership and getting it done for that customer.”

Matthew: “As a customer myself, I want to feel that somebody’s listening to what I’m saying and they’re going to do what I need them to do. Social media gives us the ability to really listen to customers, find out what might have gone wrong in the past, what we can do to learn from it, and help to get things back on the right track for them.”

Putting the social into social media

Social media continues to develop and change, and with it so will the Customer Service team. This year, we invested in a new system that provides a smoother and speedier customer experience by providing agents with a customer’s previous contact history. Queries are intelligently listed in order of importance and urgency, helping us assist those in desperate need as quickly as possible.

British Gas and our Social Customer Care team are committed to helping the business change to suit our customers and we look forward to continuing to grow and improve the service that we give.

See the @BritishGasHelp team in action on twitter

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