A summary of our best practise visit to British Gas

13th December 2016

British Gas : Member Visit 8th December 2016

CCMA members met in Leeds for a best practive visit to British Gas Smart Energy Centre hosted by our 2016 award winning Customer Relations Manager, Phil Hansborough. Phil is now the Contact Centre Manager for SMART metering in Leeds; the only complete end to end customer journey site British Gas have in the UK.

Fiona Hemsley, Head of Customer Service for Smart metering introduced us to the journey British Gas have been on over the last 20 years. A operation taking both inbound and outbound contats, booking Smart appointments and managing all the things that can (and sometimes do) go wrong. Fiona believes that “ core customer service skills are what we want; we see the Contact Centre as the start of the British Gas journey for our customers, so it really matters that our teams look after those customers well’’.

CCMA members enjoyed a tour of the Contact Centre with particular emphasis on the people in ‘the Hit Squad’ - the ones making an award winning difference to how British Gas are handling complaints and a staggering 31% decrease year on year suggests they’re getting it right !

Phil Hansborough, 2016 Customer Relations Manager of the Year at the UK National Contact Centre Awards delivered a presentation on the journey his team had gone on to improve their complaints process and create ‘Happy Customer Paths’.

Phils own career journey started as an advisor on the phone so he possesses that ‘hands on ‘ approach which is illustrated and evident throughout his presentation - from the kick off of the project and brining his advisors into a room asking them how best to reduce complaints and to reduce by 17% the total number of complaints coming in to British Gas each year.

Phil is clear that whilst complaint reduction was the aim and it was never going to be easy, having a plan that everyone:

- had input to

- was communicated with

- was accountable for

enabled him to deliver a ‘no cost’ project. In fact he was ‘brave’ enough to commit to his line managers that the projects success would be measured by a ”guaranteed no FTE increase this year “.

Customer happy paths:

Process redesign was central to the projects success and working with the field teams of engineers and gaining a common understanding of exactly where the broken customer journey paths were was key in developing and improving new “happy paths’’ . These happy paths are in place today and have shortened both the length of time a Smart visit takes and any subsequent enquiry handling time.

Phil is positive that a plan that gives you “the right people in the right role - and you’ve already got them, you just need to identify them’’ is central to giving the kind of sevice that retains your customers and makes them advocates of your business. Improvements were seen in employee engagement too with absence reducing by over 50%. One key factor in this was placing advisors in roles whereby they are NOT measured on Average Handling Time but the quality of service they provide and the complete satisfactory resolution of the complaint for each customer This is clearly evident and paying dividends for business, employee and senior leadership team alike.

The focus on complaints continues next year ekeing out those miniscule improvements to keep the customers feeling like VIPs whilst maintaining the demanding targets that Phil and the leadership team at British Gas have made look relatively easy to achieve.

Discussion over lunch confirmed that an insightful and informative day was experienced by all the attendees. A comprehensive presentation on Complaints reduction with benefits realised and demonstrated through hard data - providing assurance that this best practice was very much delivered through hard work and a focus on a collaborative approach.

Phil continued discussions after the visit with a number of members, one to one, talking through their journeys and their improvement plans offering practical advice and understand. A number of business cards changed hands …a great example of how networking is key in our strategy to build relationships and share best practise.

Top 5 Takeaways

Intelligent listening is the Key to tailoring GREAT service recovery …the little clues that can help you make a GREAT decision on managing your customer complaints.

“Close the Loop’’. That final check, after full complaint resolution, with the customer pays dividends. A quick call to just make sure everything was to the customer’s satisfaction.

It’s not the size, it’s the quality …a small empowered team can make a BIG difference if they are dedicated and empowered to full complaint resolution!

Get the people who do the job on a day to day basis, the opportunity to input to the plans, own them and deliver them. That way lies success and good colleague engagement.

Be Brave. Trust your instincts, plan carefully, collaborate, execute well.