SSE is setting new standards in service for vulnerable customers

Major energy supplier SSE has today committed to attaining the British Standard for Inclusive Service Provision. This is the gold standard for companies putting in place flexible customer service practices that are designed, marketed and available to all customers, including all of those experiencing some form of vulnerability. SSE aims to be the very first energy supplier to meet the criteria.

The commitment is included as part of SSE’s annual Treating Customers Fairly statement.

The British Standards Institute (BSI) standard is fundamentally about recognising that no two customers are the same and some need more support than others. Working to attain the standard will help SSE identify when customers may need extra help and respond with a solution which matches their individual needs.

As well as looking to improve service for vulnerable customers, with an aim for the business to achieve the Standards during 2018, SSE is planning to further improve its customer complaints handling whilst investing in extra employee training.

This year’s Treating Customers Fairly Statement also includes a range of other steps being taken by SSE to improve its customer service. Over the next twelve months SSE is planning to increase its customer service advisers, make it easier for customers to get in touch, provide more support and advice to customers falling into debt and work with customers to test and rate its service with mystery shopping.

Will Morris, Group Managing Director, Retail, said:

“Customer service is our number one priority and we know treating customers fairly doesn’t mean treating everyone the same. Some of our customers require more help or a different service and putting in place the improvements to achieve BSI accreditation will help us accomplish this.

“We’re committed to listening to what our customers want and improving our service based on what they tell us through initiatives like our Customer Forums. Our annual Treating Customers Fairly Statement gives us an opportunity to share our plans with customers, like working towards the BSI standard, which will result in an even better service for customers.

“We never forget that energy is an essential service and it’s our responsibility to make sure we are looking after our customers and recognising that anyone can be vulnerable at different points in time.”

Small Business, Consumers, and Corporate Responsibility Minister Margot James said:

“Every consumer deserves to be treated fairly, and energy suppliers should provide a quality, personalised service to all their customers. But it is good to see that SSE is leading the way and improving its service to consumers who need extra support.”

Maria Wardrobe, Director of External Affairs at the NEA, said:

“SSE is taking a very important step in working toward a recognised standard to support their vulnerable customers. At NEA we know vulnerability can manifest itself in many different ways and help needs to be tailored to the specific needs of individual consumers. I am sure this will go a long way to rebuilding trust in the energy market.”

Mike Bailey, Director, BSI Professional Services said:

“BSI is delighted to work with SSE as they continue to enhance and align their services and processes with the needs of vulnerable consumers. The British Standard for Inclusive Service Provision ensures companies have the tools needed to identify and respond to consumer vulnerability.

“For it to be effective it is vital the values of inclusivity and flexibility are present from the top to the bottom of the company. Front line staff need both the tools to identify vulnerability and the support of management to respond. We’re very happy SSE is taking steps to make sure this in place and will do what we can to support the move.”

The move to achieve the British Standard for Inclusive Service Provision will require a number of phased improvements to SSE’s processes, with different customer service functions gradually being accredited. The work will start with key areas including complaints, debt management and sales.

SSE is committed to completing this work and meeting the standards as an energy supplier by 2018.

Read the full Treating Customers Fairly statement here.