Here’s How Npower Are Cleaning Up Their Bad Reputation
After being labelled worst company in the UK in 2014, gas and electricity company, Npower was forced to improve its services by April 2015 or face a multi-million pound fine. Well… their time is now up.
Npower took a fair beating in early 2014 when regulator Ofgem intervened due to a staggering back log of over 400,000 problems. Npower failed to deliver customer bills, issued incorrect bills, and due to serious issues with direct-debit payments, some customers were owed hundreds of pounds. If that wasn’t enough, customers also complained of terrible customer service and unhelpful staff during this stressful time.
It seems that Npower had a lot of making up to do, so let’s see how they’re doing.
Meeting targets and proving it
After everything that’s gone on, it’s refreshing to see that Npower have held their hands up. They even have a section on their website dedicated to explaining how they are improving their services, and reducing the amount of backlogged bills and complaints. (There’re graphs and everything.)
The figures show that they’ve met the targets that were set for late billing and complaints and that they are continuing to make progress. They claim to be billing 98% of bills on time, have reduced late invoices by 78%, reduced total complaints by around 29% and more than halved outstanding complaints. The trend suggests that they’re heading in the right direction and Npower say that they hope to be back to normal by September.
Showing understanding and making allowances
Due to the backlog and unpredictability of Npowers’ billing process, customers often receive unexpected bills, even after they have left Npower, which can be very distressing. However, Npower are aware of this, and so encourage customers to call them about any worries regarding payment.
They have put certain regulations in place that mean you’ll have longer to pay your bill or, if you left them before the 1st of December and didn’t receive your final bill by 1st of June, you won’t have to pay.
Putting customers first and reducing complaints
In October, energy regulator Ofgem wrote an open letter to all energy suppliers asking them to carry out an independent assessment into their complaints resolution processes. This followed research they carried out in February 2014, which concluded that many customers were not happy with the way their complaint was handled.
From this assessment Npower have put together a list of things they’re aiming to improve. Here it is:
- We are taking an npower-wide policy and approach so we can consistently define when a complaint is fully resolved and improve on the definition.
- We are establishing new procedures across domestic and micro businesses to ensure consistency, and looking to rebrief our frontline staff before the end of the year.
- We will also improve how we interact with different teams within our business when handling a complaint.
- We are developing a mechanism so that customers can see how their feedback is being addressed
- We will change the language we use – for example, our front line call advisors most commonly use the phrase, “Is there anything more I can do for you today?” as opposed to our dedicated complaints handling teams using “Do you consider this complaint now be closed / resolved?” which is more proactive.
- We will improve how we measure our complaint handling performance and how the root cause of a complaint is being understood and addressed across our business.
- We will also improve the performance and management of some of our third party partners – meter operators and brokers – so that they better support how a complaint is resolved – and prevent a complaint in the first place.
- We will improve our process where we’re unable to contact a customer about their complaint.
In addition, they do seem to be taking customer service seriously. They’ve appointed a new Customer Services Director and Head of Customer Experience, have developed a Customer Transformation Programme, and carried out a full review of the entire complaints process covering both in-house and external partner processes.
Part of the programme specifically targets more effective handling of Npower customer complaints. And now, not only do they have an extensive list of frequently asked questions to help out their customers; they also clearly state how you can get in touch with them about any problem or complaint, and have more people on the phones ready to listen and ready to help. If you have any problems or concerns, just contact Npower.
Npower could be on their way to righting their wrongs, but one thing’s for sure – they’re definitely not hiding from their customers anymore.