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Press Office
0113 322 7950

Out of hours: 0113 322 7978

Stakeholder Relations Team

stakeholder@northerngas.co.uk

Delivering great customer service

Great service starts with understanding our customers’ diverse needs. In 2016, we put our strategy into practice and spoke with a wide range of customer groups, to find out what they needed from their local gas service.

These insights helped us improve our website, leaflets and letters to make them easier to understand, with more options for non-English speakers and the visually impaired.

We recruited multi-lingual customer care officers to break down language barriers in neighbourhoods with large numbers of non-English speakers.

Real-time information about roadworks on the website, and advanced notice through the letterbox, ensured customers were better informed before the barriers went up.

And we worked with other organisations to deliver a more joined-up service around big national initiatives such as smart meters, in order to minimise problems for local communities.

These efforts all translated to another set of high marks in the independent annual customer satisfaction survey conduced by our regulator, Ofgem.   We continue to hold the number one position for customer satisfaction overall since 2013.

Outputs - a detailed look

This table takes a detailed look at our customer performance in 2016/17. Simply click the plus arrow to read a brief commentary on what the statistic means, and how we did.

Customer service Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
Status
Unplanned interruptions (score out of 10)
?

Unplanned interruptions are issues such as gas escapes, which result in the gas going of suddenly and without warning. Each year, Ofgem carries out surveys among a cross-section of customers affected by such an interruption, to gauge their level of satisfaction with our response. Our score of 9.46 is ahead of target. The professionalism and dedication of our emergency engineers had a lot to do with this great performance.

9.0
9.3
9.4
9.5
9.46
Ahead
Planned interruptions (score out of 10)
?

Planned interruptions are periods when the gas goes off for essential repair or maintenance work. Customers are given advanced notice, usually through letters. Our score of 8.90 equals last year’s score and is ahead of target. Lots of elements went into this strong performance, including the use of detailed mitigation plans for each job, to minimise inconvenience, and weighting our programme of work, so that fewer jobs are carried out in winter, when the impact of losing gas is more acute.

8.5
8.4
8.7
8.9
8.90
Ahead
Connections (score out of 10)
?

This is a measure of how we performed when installing private gas connections for homes or businesses. Our score of 9.16 out of 10 is ahead of last year’s score and beats our target. We’ve transformed our connections service in recent years, to make it far more customer focused, and this is reflected in the strong score.

8.4
8.6
9.0
9.1
9.16
Ahead
Complaints metric
?

We receive an overall complaints score each year, based on four different elements: the percentage of complaints unresolved after one working day; percentage of complaints unresolved after 31 working days; percentage of repeat complaints and the number of Energy Ombudsman decisions that have gone against us. Our score of 2.7 is way ahead of target. Lots of elements have gone into this, from our company wide commitment to great customer service to a very proactive approach to complaints resolution, in which we endeavor to agree a solution with the customer within 60 minutes of a complaint coming in.

11.6
4.8
2.7
3.1
2.7
Ahead

Case studies

We’re working on some exciting projects that are helping us to stay one step ahead as we continue to strive to deliver highest standards of customer service. All of these projects have our customers firmly at the heart.

Looking back at Withernsea

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In January 2017, just under 3,000 homes in the coastal town of Withernsea lost gas supply due to a technical fault on our network.

It was the biggest incident in a decade for our business. Hundreds of NGN colleagues swung into action to get the gas back on and keep the town’s predominantly elderly population warm and informed.

We have since held a meeting with key stakeholders from the town to review our handling of the incident.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, but here were also some useful pointers for next time we face a major incident.

For example, it was pointed out that signs directing people to the drop-in center could be improved, and healthier hot food options provided for those without cooking facilities. We’re making changes in response.

Following Withernsea, and other disruptive incidents last year, we have also made the decision to double compensation payments from £30 to £60 for every 24 hour a customer is without gas. The decision, a first for our industry, was made in response to customer feedback, and provides greater recompense for the inconvenience of a lengthy period without gas.

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App-y customers

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A new app is helping us have more productive conversations with our customers.

Called myWORK, the app allows colleagues to gather satisfaction feedback; guide customers through a Carbon Monoxide (CO) awareness survey, and make instant referrals to our Priority Services Register for those needing extra support.

The app has been used more than 5,000 times since it was launched in April, and is now on the smartphones of more than 350 colleagues.

By gathering feedback in this manner each and every day, we can improve our understanding of our customers’ priorities, and identify any pressing issues that need to be resolved.

 

 

 

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Getting smart about meter roll-out

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A new generation of ‘smart’ gas and electricity meters has begun to be installed in homes across the UK.

Although this massive infrastructure project is lead by suppliers, it has implications for gas distributors and our customers. For example, we expect to see an increase in gas escapes during the programme due to the sheer volume of pipes and valves that are being worked on.

We’re working closely with suppliers, smart meter organisations and our own engineers to minimise inconvenience for our customers.

Our role includes advising the companies who are training meter installers (training the trainers, in essence), sharing local network data with suppliers and ensuring our own engineers know what is expected of them.

We will continue to monitor the programme as it gathers pace in our region, and do everything we can to support a smooth roll-out.

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No need to dig up the driveway

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If there’s a gas leak on a customer’s property, the location of the gas meter can make a big difference to the level of disruption.

If the meter is half buried in the garden, path or driveway, we usually have to dig down and cap off supply, so repairs can be made.

However, two NGN colleagues have developed a rubber stopper than can be threaded into a customer’s gas service pipe and then inflated, capping off supply without the need to dig.

The stoppers save around four hours, and £300 per job (that’s £60,000 a year), as well as all the customer inconvenience of a dug up driveway or garden.

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Keeping customers cooking on gas….even during pipe replacements

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What do you do when you need to replace a gas pipe in the street, but it’s the only one serving the community?

In the old days, we’d simply advise people that their gas would have to be switched off, or spend many hours building a temporary bypass pipe to keep gas flowing during the work.

Recently, however, we’ve begun trialling a flexible, hose-like pipe which we can rig up quickly. That way, we can keep customers cooking on gas, even while we are replacing the pipe in the street.

The trials have been a big success, and we’re currently looking at options for using this great bit of kit on a more regular basis.

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