Treating customers fairly

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1 Treating customers fairly August 2015

2 Our promise to treat you fairly At SSE we are committed to giving excellent service and treating customers fairly. We are proud of our track record on this. However, there is always room for improvement and innovation. Our 2015 Treating Customers Fairly Statement sets out the actions we re taking to deliver exactly that. As a company, we seek to always act in a responsible way, aiming to deliver fairness to our customers and the wider communities in which we operate. In 2014, we took the important step of becoming the first FTSE100 Company to achieve the Fair Tax Mark. The purpose of the Fair Tax Mark is to provide assurance to customers that their energy company pays the right amount of tax, in the right place and at the right time. SSE was the first energy company to be an accredited Living Wage Employer. Whilst this was an important step in ensuring fair wages for employees, Living Wage brings about benefits for customers too. When employees are treated fairly, they stay for longer and give a better service to customers. In 2014, SSE implemented the Living Wage through its supply chain in new contracts where employees would work regularly on SSE sites. Energy is an essential service and as an energy company we understand the importance of delivering a fair service. Customers no matter who they are, where they come from or what their circumstances are can be sure they will be treated fairly by us. SSE strives to continually improve and develop its products and services in a way that specifically seeks to treat customers fairly and we welcome feedback from customers on how we can do more. At SSE we are always looking to improve and great strides were made in the following areas in 2014/15: Listening to you by establishing programmes such as the Treating Customers Fairly Forums up and down the country. Helping you save money by cutting gas prices, extending our price freeze, launching competitive new products and introducing a new online Energy Efficiency Household Assessment tool. Improving services to customers by investing in new state-of-the-art websites and new programmes so customers don t have to wait on hold to our customer service lines. Putting things right when there's been a problem by being recognised as the best energy supplier for complaint handling every quarter since 2010 in the Citizens Advice Energy Supplier Performance report and informing customers of their right to contact the Ombudsman after six weeks rather than eight. Looking after customers who need extra help by developing enhanced Disability and Equality Act training for SSE employees and partnering with the dementia experts at the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University. 6 Improving your service no matter how you pay by launching a proactive campaign to prevent self-disconnection by customers with Pay As You Go meters and offering free removals for Pay As You Go Meters, subject to a successful credit check, if customers wish to change their payment method. Alistair Phillips-Davies Chief Executive Richard Gillingwater CBE Chairman 2

3 Introduction At SSE, we never forget that you have a choice of supplier and we are grateful that you have chosen us. We never take that choice for granted and want to keep improving the products and services we offer you. This updated Treating Customers Fairly Statement tells you about some of the things we are doing to meet the Standards of Conduct set by the energy industry regulator, Ofgem, and to improve the service we provide. You can also find more information on our website about our responsibilities to you, plus other helpful documents and advice including: our Customer Charter our 'Paying Your Energy Bill' guide our Prepayment Meter Statement Information on Pay As You Go Services our Complaint Handling Statement Our Customer Charter tells you more about what you can expect from us and the promises we ve made to go above and beyond industry standards to do more for you, our customers. 3

4 Our Standards of Conduct Above all, our decisions and actions are based on our commitment to treating you fairly. To help achieve this, we promise to meet the following standards: 1 2 We will behave and carry out any actions in a fair, honest, transparent, appropriate and professional way. The information we give to you (whether verbally or in writing) will be: complete, accurate and truthful in clear and plain language related to products or services that are appropriate for you fairly presented, with the most important information highlighted to you We will always act promptly and courteously to help you. If something goes wrong or a mistake is made, we will work with you to fix this without fuss. We will continually review the way we do things to ensure our work is complete, thorough, fit for purpose and transparent. We will make it easy for you to contact us. These standards have informed the actions we ve taken this year to help improve the service we offer you; they also apply to all of the products and services we sell, not just energy. You can read more about some of these actions and how they might benefit you on the following pages. 4

5 Listening to you A key part of our approach to Treating Customers Fairly is to listen to the people who know most about what customers want from their energy provider our customers themselves. We want to make sure we understand your opinions and that these are factored in to our decisions, actions, products and services. We are proud of our products and services. But to make sure that we always listen and offer customers the best value we will introduce a welcome to service survey. This will help us understand exactly what you expect from us as your energy supplier and ensure that you are getting the most out of the products and service that we provide. Following the success of our Customer Forums, where we invited customers to meet with us on a quarterly basis to give us feedback on our performance and help guide our products and services, we launched Treating Customers Fairly Forums up and down the country. These give us an opportunity to hear directly from customers about what they care about, as well as getting their feedback on some of our planned activities. So far we ve covered everything from smart meters to energy bill design. For example, we asked about this Treating Customers Fairly Statement and forum members told us they wanted to see more information on: what we are doing to keep prices down other ways in which we are helping you save money how we are performing on complaints. So you can find more on these topics in this Statement. The forums independent chairs also meet with our Chief Executive annually meaning that our customers concerns are heard by the people at the very top. At the same time, our dedicated customer service advisers are speaking to our customers day in, day out. So we have set up new Treating Customers Fairly Employee Forums in order to get their views on common issues facing customers and how we can improve our own systems and processes to enhance our service. The members of these forums help to keep our behaviour and practices, the information we give to customers and our internal processes under constant review. Feedback from customers and employees in our forums has helped us identify a number of priority areas to focus on as part of our efforts to treat customers fairly: improving customer service helping you save money dealing with issues and complaints quickly, with knowledge and understanding tackling call waiting times giving you simple, accurate and useful information looking after the most vulnerable customers. You ll find examples of the actions we have been taking to address these areas throughout this document. For example, if we owe you money, we are working to ensure that we will always get it to your bank account within five working days of your request and if you have a query on your usage we are training our customer service staff to give you clear information that helps you understand any difference. Your feedback helps us improve the service we offer you. So even if you aren t a member of one of our Customer Forums, we still want to hear from you. We promise to make it easy for you to contact us and we have listed the different ways in which you can do so at the end of this document. We want to hear from you your feedback helps us improve the service we offer you 5

6 Helping you save money We know that the cost of energy can be a worry for customers, and one of the things customers told us in our Treating Customers Fairly Forums was that they want us to help them save money. In March 2014 we announced the longest ever freeze on standard household energy prices, promising not to increase prices until January 2016 at the earliest, and cut gas and electricity prices. We also made clear that, although this meant prices could not rise, we would still reduce them if we could. This will mean that, as our customer, you know that our prices will not have gone up for over two and a half years; prices will, in fact, have been cut twice during that time. Our Customer Forums have helped us identify areas where we believe we can improve our service. For example, following discussions in Customer Forums we will be proactively reviewing the information we provide for our customers on how best to use their electric heating and will commit to offering home visits for the most vulnerable, to give them the best possible advice and support. Our website offers plenty of energy saving tips and advice, and we promise to offer to find ways to reduce your energy use and save you money every time you call us. If we don t meet this or any of our other Customer Service Guarantee commitments, we ll give you 20 off your next bill 2. In the coming year, we will be doing more to help you to find other ways to reduce the cost of your energy bill. Changes, such as moving to an alternative payment plan or managing your bill online could save you money and help the environment by using less paper. To help you get advice on ways you may be able to improve the energy efficiency in your home, in the autumn we will be introducing a new on-line Energy Efficiency Household Assessment tool which will allow you to obtain a personalised report on the energy efficiency status of your home, including energy efficiency tips. This report will be available online and can be ed to you for your information. This year we made good on that promise, cutting a typical customer s gas prices by 4.1% and extending our price freeze until at least July Making switching easier We know many customers like to shop around for the best deal, and we think the switching process should be quick and easy. That s why we were one of the first suppliers to introduce faster switching, cutting the process down from 34 to 17 days, which includes the 14-day statutory cancellation period. We will also highlight on your bill if you could pay less by switching to another tariff with us. This year we've cut a typical customer s gas prices by 4.1% and extended our price freeze 6

7 Improving services for customers You also told us that you wanted better online services. With more of us now using mobiles and tablets to get online, it is important that our websites are customer-friendly and accessible in a variety of different formats. So we are investing in new, state-of-the-art websites aimed at making it brilliantly simple for you to interact with us on any device. Our new websites, being phased in during the course of 2015/16, will offer you personalised information and offers in an intuitive and user-friendly way. This will help meet our commitment to giving you information that is fairly presented and related to products and services that are relevant to you. But we also want to improve more than just the online experience we provide, and in our Standards of Conduct we commit to continually reviewing the way we do things. That s why we have set up dedicated teams within customer service who are encouraged to review the way we do things day by day and propose changes to improve your experience as a valued customer. For example, we know that no-one likes spending time waiting on hold before speaking to a customer service adviser. So we are introducing a new system that will allow you to ask us to call you back rather than holding on in a queue on our Customer Service lines. It s just a small way in which we hope to make your life easier and meet our commitment to making it easy for you to contact us. We are investing in state-of-the-art websites making it simple for you to interact with us 7

8 Putting things right when there s a problem We do our best to provide you with the best possible service at all times, but we know that sometimes things can go wrong. When there is a problem, we work hard to make sure it is resolved as quickly and effectively as possible without fuss. If things do go wrong we will pass your complaint to an expert team who will be trained to resolve your complaint quickly. Over the course of the coming year, we aim to lead the industry by reducing the average time it takes us to resolve a complaint from six days to four days. In an independent report commissioned by our regulator, Ofgem, in September 2014 we were the leading supplier for complaint handling amongst the major suppliers. But we don't stop there. We took on board the report findings and are working hard to enhance our performance, as part of our commitment to continual improvement. We are proud to have been recognised as the best performing energy supplier for complaint handling in every quarterly Citizens Advice Energy Supplier Performance report since it was first launched in

9 A report by Ombudsman Services: Energy also showed that between April and June 2015 the number of complaints it accepted from SSE customers was the lowest among GB's 10 largest suppliers, with just 3.98 complaints for every 100,000 SSE customers compared to an industry average of However, our aim is to remain the best in the industry at putting things right and we want to improve our performance further still. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts we are not always able to resolve 100% of complaints ourselves. So we think it is only fair that you have the option of getting an independent opinion if you are not happy with our response to a complaint. That s where the Ombudsman plays a valuable role and, as standard, energy suppliers are obliged to inform you of your right to take your complaint to the Ombudsman if it has not been resolved after eight weeks. However, we know that you want issues and complaints dealt with quickly and so, from now on, we will inform you of your right to contact the Ombudsman for resolution of your complaint after just six weeks as part of our efforts to raise the bar on complaint handling. Our ambition over the next 12 months will be to reduce the time even further to four weeks. As part of this we are making it easier for you to contact us and follow up on complaints. We have introduced SMS texting as an easy way to contact us while dealing with a problem as well as direct routes back to our expert handlers. This will help give us an even greater focus on doing everything we can to resolve a complaint to your satisfaction even faster and, if we can t for any reason, we will make it quick and easy for you to take it further. Looking after customers who need extra help Energy is an essential service and we take our responsibility to supply it to you very seriously, particularly if you are in a vulnerable situation. Vulnerability can take many forms and we want to do everything we can to support you if you have additional needs. We will ensure you are treated fairly and help you manage your energy costs, including our commitment never to back-bill our most vulnerable customers. Over the next 12 months, we will be training all customer service staff on how best to support vulnerable customers. We will also ensure that our elderly and vulnerable customers are always able to speak to a specialist adviser if they need to. SSE s complaint handling performance compared against other major suppliers npower E.ON British Gas 83.9 EDF Energy SSE Weighted cases per 100,000 customers Scottish Power In addition to the many other forms of support we provide, this year we have: Developed an enhanced Disability and Equality Act training package for customer service and sales employees. This will ensure that our teams are better equipped to identify vulnerability, are able to adapt our service to ensure all customers are given the support they need, and have a sound understanding of the legislation. Worked closely with the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at Stirling University to prepare a guide for all employees to assist in dealing with customers with dementia, as well as a booklet containing practical tips for those caring for someone suffering from dementia. Specialist teams have received additional training from the DSDC. Reviewed our processes for translating communications into different languages and providing an efficient translation service for calls, further improving our ability to communicate more effectively with customers for whom English is not their first language. Developed a SignVideo service for customers who use British Sign Language, through which they can communicate in sign language via a live video link. Once it is launched in Autumn 2015 it will enable customers who could not previously have had real-time conversations with us to do so in their chosen method. Comparison taken from January to March 2015 figures Source: citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-citizens-advice-works/citizens-advice-consumer-work/supplier-performance/ energy-supplier-performance/ 9

10 Improving your service no matter how you pay Many of our customers use Pay As You Go meters because this can help them manage their finances or to help them repay an outstanding balance. We want to improve the experience of all our customers, regardless of the way in which they pay for their energy, and have therefore been working to offer an enhanced service to Pay As You Go customers. We are working to expand the range of tariffs we offer on Pay As You Go, as well as adding content to our website to ensure that Pay As You Go customers have access to appropriate, up-to-date, accurate, clear and concise information. As our websites are upgraded, we will be enhancing the online services we offer Pay As You Go customers. While Pay As You Go meters can help customers to budget effectively, there is a risk that customers could be without energy if they cannot afford to top up. We take this very seriously and have introduced a proactive campaign to help identify and prevent this happening to Pay As You Go customers in vulnerable situations. By doing what we can to keep an eye on top-up habits, we aim to spot any irregularities and make contact to offer advice, support, information, alternative payment arrangements and, where eligible, financial assistance. In many cases, properties are vacant or simply using very little energy, however in some instances we have been able to identify vulnerability and have taken action, removing the Pay As You Go meter where appropriate and finding other ways to help. We also appreciate that our customers circumstances can change and so might their preferred payment method. If you currently have a Pay As You Go meter and would like to move to a credit meter, we will now change the meter free of charge, subject to a successful credit check and agreeing to a payment plan. Contact us We aim to make it as easy as possible for you to contact us and would love to hear from you in any of the following ways. Call us on All of our contact centres are UK-based and are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm on Saturdays. Send us an using our online form atlantic.co.uk/contactusonline/ Contact us via Twitter or on Write to us at: SSE Atlantic, Inveralmond House, 200 Dunkeld Road, Perth, PH1 3AQ atlanticeg If you have any questions about this Statement, or you would like to share ideas for how we can improve our service, please get in touch through the above channels or by ing 10

11 1 Gas price cut & gas/electricity price freeze applies to SSE customers on our Standard domestic tariff, except SSE Airtricity customers. Based on Ofgem standard gas consumption of 12,500kWh per year (correct as of August 2015); weighted average across all payment types and regions. 2 We will consider claims made under this Guarantee and determine their validity. Claim considered where: (i) customer provided and will continue to provide relevant and required information; (ii) claim is made within 10 working days of alleged failure; (iii) the claimant is an existing customer; (iv) the alleged failure was not outside our control; (v) a goodwill payment has not already been awarded to the customer in relation to the same incident. Although we will endeavour to find ways to help the customer save money and offer support (if sought), we cannot be held liable if savings are not made or if a product, discount, tariff, deal, service or form of assistance was / is not available or if it was / is deemed inappropriate to review such matters. 20 discount is a goodwill payment and will be applied to customer accounts or meters as appropriate or applicable. If the customer has more than one account with us the discount will be applied to an account at our discretion. Cash payments may be made at our discretion. We reserve the right to alter, amend or withdraw this Guarantee without prior notice. 3 Citizens Advice, formerly Consumer Futures, has published performance data on major suppliers complaint handling since The latest data can be found here: 4 Ombudsman: Energy Services publishes quarterly statistics about the contacts it receives and the complaints it handles for the energy sector as a whole, and by named company for the 10 largest energy companies (based on customer base). Individual company reports are available here: SSE and Atlantic are trading names of SSE Energy Supply Limited Registered in England & Wales No and Southern Electric Gas Limited Registered in England & Wales No , both members of the SSE Group. The Registered Office of SSE Energy Supply Limited and Southern Electric Gas Limited is 55 Vastern Road Reading Berkshire RG1 8BU. AT TREATING CUSTOMERS FAIRLY STATEMENT AUG 15

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