Why the customer is always right

I hope people caught the third and final part of the BBC Four documentary series which ended by putting SSE’s relationship with its customers under the microscope.

Entitled ‘the customer is always right’, the programme took a long hard look at how we help customers resolve issues with their bills and the work we are all doing to grow our Retail business. While there were certainly some learning points in there, on the whole I think the film presented a balanced view of what we are about in Retail and how we are responding to the challenges we face by keeping the customer at the heart of everything we do.

Going on camera can be daunting and I want to thank everyone who put themselves ‘out there’ to help tell SSE’s story. The reason we decided to ‘let the cameras in’ was to show the public a side of SSE they never usually see. To get past what can be unfair media headlines and see the passion and commitment of the people who make SSE what it is by doing all they can to help customers despite operating under pressure at times. To really show people how we are working hard to build our reputation.

I must say it’s a strange experience being followed by the cameras. Endless hours of footage is turned into just a few choice moments that make it into the film and you can never quite be sure what to expect – from management meetings to a sneaky bar of chocolate on the train. And although it was undoubtedly a risk I think it was absolutely the right decision to open ourselves up in the way we have.

We were formed by an Act of Parliament to provide an essential service, so we have a duty to be transparent and engage openly. But more than that, it was an opportunity to shine a light on the real SSE; and with hundreds of thousands of people tuning in to watch I think that shows just how important and interesting the work we do as a company is to our customers and we should always remember that.

The programme can also help us improve by holding up a mirror to what we do and how we do it. I hope the film will stimulate plenty of good debate across all our people about what we do well and what we can do better. We’ll be running sessions to encourage feedback and canvass opinions.

For example, in one of the scenes Tracey Costley, who looks after our customer service centres, asks some advisers how we can help them to help customers. The strong feedback was that advisers need better information about the costs that go into energy bills to help them when speaking to customers. So we’ve produced a short booklet explaining what makes up the bill and this is being made available to all customer service staff this week. Just a small example of how we’re taking the lessons from this experience on board.

So my heartfelt thanks to all those who took part and I hope the programme stimulates plenty of debate. There’s no doubt in my mind that those people who watched it last night will think the better of us for it and I look forward to hearing your views.

About the author

Will Morris Group Managing Director, Retail

Will Morris is Group Managing Director of SSE's Retail business, having joined the company in 2012 from Intercontinental Hotels Group, where he had been Chief Operating Officer. Will has spent 22 years in blue chip customer facing service businesses - including British Airways and the Walt Disney Company - both in the UK and internationally. At SSE, Will has Management Board-level responsibility for our business in energy supply and energy-related services, working towards the long-term goal of making SSE the number one supplier of energy and related services.

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