Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the gas distribution network for Yorkshire, the North East and northern Cumbria has achieved the BS 18477 standard in recognition of the outstanding support it offers to its customers in identifying and responding to customer vulnerability.
BS 18477 is a voluntary standard which is awarded by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and recognises critical procedures that organisations have in place to ensure inclusive services are available and accessible to all consumers equally, regardless of their personal circumstances.
The audit held over five days engaged with a cross section of colleagues including directors, process owners, support services and operational colleagues, in order to ensure that inclusive service methods are embedded across the company.
The BSI undertook a thorough review of NGN’s strategy, policies and procedures, training, audit process, customer performance associated with a range of vulnerabilities, ease of access to information and methods of communication, all of which were found to meet the standard.
Heather Nowak, Scheme Manager at BSI said: “Identifying and responding to consumer vulnerability is important for any organization dealing with the public. The Inclusive Service Verification Standard, BS 18477 is designed to help service providers to identify and respond appropriately to different consumer needs and to deliver services that do not discriminate. As any consumer can experience vulnerability at any time, this verification scheme applies to organizations regardless of type, size and the services provided.
“By achieving verification certification to BS 18477, Northern Gas has demonstrated that it has the relevant policies and procedures, training plans and fair and accessible practices in place when dealing with consumers.”
NGN’s Head of Social Strategy, Tom Bell, said: “We are extremely proud that we have been verified as achieving this standard.
“We work very hard to understand the impact of what we do from our customers perspective, taking into account individual circumstances and responding accordingly with sensitivity and a desire to get it right.
“This accreditation is testament to our hard work and commitment over the last two years and reflects our ambition to look after all of our customers, including those that are more vulnerable.”
BS 18477 was established by the British Standards Institution (BSI) to protect customers in vulnerable situations who are often at greater risk and find it more difficult to exercise their rights.