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 fourth quarter of 2017 (1st October to 31st December 2017).

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

How we're doing

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%

Q4 2017

Reporting period

Q4 2017

Complaints received

135,230

Received per 100k customer accounts

1,050

Complaints resolved

140,418

Resolved per 100k customer accounts

1,091

% resolved same or next working day

48.0%

% resolved within 8 weeks

89.6%

What happened in Q4 2017?

  • There was a decrease in complaints received per 100K customer accounts compared to the last quarter and there was a 39% reduction in complaints received on the same time the year before
  • We resolved a total of 140,418 complaints in Q4 which is 1,091 complaints per 100k customer accounts
  • We’ve seen a decrease 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 increase in the number of complaints we resolved within eight weeks compared to the last quarter
  • We received 981 Ombudsman complaints. That’s only 10% 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 26%

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

Q4 2016

24%

Q1 2017

22%

Q2 2017

24%

Q3 2017

22%

Q4 2017

23%

Billing

As a percentage of the total complaints received

Q4 2016

15%

Q1 2017

18%

Q2 2017

19%

Q3 2017

18%

Q4 2017

18%

Customer Service

As a percentage of the total complaints received

Q4 2016

14%

Q1 2017

14%

Q2 2017

13%

Q3 2017

15%

Q4 2017

16%

Metering

As a percentage of the total complaints received

Q4 2016

15%

Q1 2017

15%

Q2 2017

14%

Q3 2017

13%

Q4 2017

14%

Communication

As a percentage of the total complaints received

Q4 2016

8%

Q1 2017

7%

Q2 2017

8%

Q3 2017

8%

Q4 2017

7%

Payments

Lots of things affect how many complaints we get about payments such as 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 4.1m reassessments of payment schemes this quarter to ensure that our customers’ payments will meet their anticipated consumption
  • We’ve made changes to help us assess your expected consumption more accurately when you set up a payment scheme with us
  • We’ve improved our processes to help you to manage your existing bill payments via payment schemes

What we’re doing:

  • We’re fixing the problems that have sometimes stopped us setting up a payment scheme properly
  • We’re making our correspondence clearer when there’s a final bill payment to be taken
  • We’re looking into how we can use new metering technology to help us develop payment options that work for you

Billing

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

What we’ve done:

  • Where SMART meters aren’t working, we are contacting customers and asking them to take a meter reading (if we hold a mobile number for them). This has enabled us to send an accurate bill to more customers each month
  • The volume of meter reading and billing complaints continues to fall due to improvements to our processes
  • We now have fewer customers without an accurate reading on their account in the last 12 months than ever before
  • We’re now able to offer electricity special meter reading appointments within 4 days – a reduction of 17 days from 2015

What we’re doing:

  • Reviewing our end to end process whereby a SMART meter doesn’t work to ensure we can still bill the customer to an accurate meter reading
  • We’re continuing to review our Direct Debit experience from a customer perspective to improve the experience

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 373,913 Smart meters across Britain in quarter four
  • We’ve listened to feedback about the energy efficiency advice that we provide and we’ve trialled new techniques for providing energy saving information and tips
  • More smart metering appointments have been made available to meet expected customer demand including trials at weekends
  • We are continuing to upgrade customers’ existing Smart meters with the technology which will ensure that they will work when we switch over to DCC (Data Communications Company) to enable customers to move to other suppliers and keep the benefits of their current smart meter.  This upgrade is also helping us fix 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
  • Ensuring our operating model reflects the demands of our customers
  • Using improved data analytics and operational modelling to improve our ways of working

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’ve delivered additional training to our agents to ensure we’re quick to identify customer complaints, and resolve things promptly and effectively
  • Customer feedback on how we’re doing remains key to us so we’ve continued to get feedback from complaining customers so we can identify areas we can improve upon
  • We’ve enabled agents to be available to speak with our customers when they need us most through extended operating hours

What we’re doing:

  • We’re continuing to develop a programme to enhance the way we handle customer enquiries and complaints, which will enable us to resolve concerns as quickly as possible
  • We’re continuing to roll out technology to enable our agents to interact with our customers via SMS (texting), making it easier for our customers to interact with us

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

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%

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%

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).