At Kura, I’m responsible for looking after one of our key utility clients. This week, I was having a conversation with my team on the subject of vulnerability in the energy industry and the upstream approach we are taking to change how people think about this. For the last two years, I have focussed my attention on providing the right care and attention to these customers to ensure we are providing them with a high level of service. In the energy industry, 20% of our customer base does not feel that they have the digital skills to participate fully in society, so the reliability and service provided by my team is essential.
The potential for any of our customers to be considered vulnerable is the result of their own personal circumstances and how the market operates. In the energy industry, 5% of customers are in debt on both their gas and electricity accounts, with 21% of all UK adults currently having a disability or impairment, this is a precarious situation to put them in especially during the winter months. At Kura, we’re doing something very different in our industry, we’re building a culture that shifts the mind-set from focusing on “things and stuff” to “people and their behaviour”. This focus, empowers our advisors to be proactive in identifying key indicators of vulnerability and financial hardship, so they are able to better serve the customer.
In a world where the majority of our interactions with clients are transactional, we understand that there is no one size fits all approach to customer service. The implementation of our extra care teams is one of the things we have introduced at Kura to support our vulnerable customers. Within these teams, we have removed industry standard targets alleviating pressure on the advisor and allowing them to focus on the customer. You might think to yourself, how much of an impact would this actually have on a customer? Well, we implemented a customer feedback tool “Voice of the Customer” created by our software business, Inisoft to measure this. Voice of the Customer, allows our clients to rate their experience using the NPS scoring system and has enabled us to move away from standard industry targets to focus on our client’s feedback and personal experience. We asked our customers ‘how satisfied are you with your experience?’ Our Extra Care teams scored 32% higher than our standard teams. When you consider the only difference between the departments is the targets, it shows what can be achieved when you allow your people to focus on the customer. This reinforces my opinion that the future of our business is empowering people to do the right thing.
Since implementing the extra care teams into our operation, we have experienced a 100% reduction in customers escalating their complaints with us to the energy ombudsman services. I am of the firm belief that culture eats strategy for breakfast and that by moving away from archaic priorities great things can be achieved.