First Utility makes improvements to customer service

London, March 30, 2012 — U.K.-based First Utility has announced a number of changes to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its customer service function.

The new look structure will include a greater number of advisors on call at key times, an improved staff training function to increase first-time call resolution and the creation of a dedicated online team to respond to customers using email or Twitter.

Steve McNeil, head of customer experience at First Utility, made the announcement on the energy supplier’s blog, stating:

“I want to publicly acknowledge that some customers may have experienced a level of service that was below expectation. I would like to apologize if you have been affected, and wish to highlight the positive steps we have taken to strengthen our service in light of recent feedback.

“Our customer service team answers more than 18,000 phone calls every month with customers waiting, on average, 1.5 minutes to get through. We also resolve over 5,000 email enquiries every month. That said there are times, particularly just after we email our bills, when call and email volumes increase exponentially. This can make it challenging for customers to get through by phone and slows response times to email.

“What am I doing about it? I have recruited more staff to improve the responsiveness of our contact center at peak times with additional staff coming on board over the next few months. We are improving the training of our call center staff to empower them to resolve queries first time. We have implemented new technology to improve access to customer services via web chat, twitter and email. A dedicated online service team has been created to serve customers who prefer to email or tweet and the online service team are trialing live web chat to determine if customers find it useful.

“I’m also increasing resource in the back office teams to speed up query resolution and investing in a new billing system.”

Recently First Utility announced a partnership with Opower to provide U.K. utility customers with energy-saving tools based on smart meter data.

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