Effective complaints handling is essential for fostering customer loyalty new research by resourcing and complaints handling specialists at Huntswood has revealed.
When asked, almost two thirds (62%) of utilities customers said that poor customer service is enough to make them switch to another provider, while 80% would also let a negative experience change their overall impression of a company.
Polling 3,000 consumers across the UK, the study reveals that current complaints procedures are falling flat with customers. 73% of respondents admitted they are not satisfied with the way their energy company handles complaints, while 65% feel the same way about their water supplier.
Furthermore, 63% of energy customers, and 55% of water customers believe that staff within the complaints department lack the knowledge required to help them find a resolution.
The research should act as a warning to utility companies, especially during winter months when severe weather could bring with it a huge spike in the volume, complexity and urgency of consumer complaints. During these periods, it will be important to have a thorough plan for continued operational resilience in place.
When it comes to fixing the problem, one in two customers (53%) believe that having their issue dealt with quickly is the most important outcome when lodging a complaint, with half of consumers (55%) expecting a reply within the first 24 hours.
Steve Kitchen, Managing Director of Client Resource at Huntswood, said: “Our research proves how pivotal quick and efficient complaints handling is to business success. Having a contingency plan in place is especially important during challenging periods such as the winter months, when the number of complaints can multiply.
While the issues caused by extreme weather are often unavoidable, there are steps that every provider can take to ensure that they do not fall short of customer expectations. Finding a solution which provides the right blend of resource, infrastructure and technology is key.
This will not only help utility providers to reduce the overall number of disputes, but also ensure stronger customer relationships in the future.”
Huntswood has extensive experience of working within the utilities sector, helping to improve suppliers’ complaints handling processes on a long- or short-term basis, or as part of an ongoing outsourced arrangement. Huntswood is also able to provide firms contingency solutions based on a managed shared-resource pool model.
For more information on how businesses can better support customers through extreme winter, download Huntswood’s latest whitepaper, Surviving the Winter Surge.