Vulnerability can come in many forms; how we can help

Recently Ofgem announced a series of new rules for the protection of vulnerable customers as part of what is known as the ‘Priority Services Register’ (PSR). The PSR provides extra support for customers and until now has focused mainly on helping customers who are disabled, chronically sick, have a hearing or visual impairment or are of pensionable age. The new rules broaden the definition of vulnerability and now require suppliers to proactively identify customers in vulnerable situations, using this wider definition.

At SSE we know we have a duty of care to our customers which we take seriously, especially for those in vulnerable situations. This is why we welcome and support Ofgem’s moves to strengthen the PSR. But we still think it’s possible to go further and do more for our customers. That’s why we announced earlier in the year that we are working with the British Standards Institution (BSI) to make sure that we are able to meet the varying needs of our customers.

The British Standard for Inclusive Service Provision is the gold standard for any company looking to enhance their ability to adapt services to match customers’ needs. SSE was the first energy supplier to announce its intention to work with the BSI and achieving this will help us give customers a service tailored to their individual circumstances. This is a positive step which recognises that no two customers are the same and takes account of the fact that vulnerability comes in many forms. We are pleased that the positive action taken by SSE to continuously improve the service we provide and support the customers who most need our help is in line with Ofgem’s positive changes to the PSR.

Each year SSE publishes its Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) Statement, which sets out the actions that have been taken and are being taken to deliver fair treatment for our customers, including our work in supporting those in vulnerable situations.

In recent years we’ve put in place a wide range of new initiatives including;

  • additional training for customer service staff to help them assist customers and relatives who may be suffering from dementia;
  • a SignVideo service allowing British Sign Language users to communicate in real time with us; and
  • a review of our processes for translating communications into different languages and providing efficient translation services for calls to help customers for whom English is not their first language.

This year’s TCF Statement is set around four key areas that customers have told us are important to them and we will deliver a number of commitments which highlight our ongoing work to deliver fair treatment and provide a better customer experience.

We have made good progress in improving our service for our vulnerable customers and you can find out more about our work in this area in our 2016 TCF Statement by clicking here.