Energy is for everyone
Buying energy should be as easy as buying cornflakes. Here's how we make sure that Octopus Energy works well for as many people as possible, as well as all the ways we can support if you need a bit of extra help.
Our accessible website
Accessibility and inclusion off the web
- Our Priority Services Register
- Vulnerability Commitment
- Speak to our team through a British Sign Language interpreter
- Our accessible phone service
- Submitting meter readings with phone IVR
- Catering to customers who speak different languages
- Braille bills
- Accessible In-Home Display
Our customer experience is constantly evolving
Our accessible website
When it comes to web content, we know that accessible design is good design, so our developers are always working with accessibility and inclusion in mind. Our head of Front-End Development, Ashley Firth, even wrote a book about it! We’re always sure to hit a AA-AAA standard when it comes to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). You can find out more about exactly what sorts of things we do in this comprehensive guide to web accessibility at Octopus.
Our site takes your preferences into account by default
Many of us like to customise our online experience, altering things like magnification, text size and colour contrast to make browsing the internet more accessible. Some people have asked us why we don’t include the option to customise aspects of the Octopus experience specifically within our website. This is because we’ve found that building ‘responsive’ web pages that cater to your specific browser and device settings (alongside a good ‘base level’ of accessibility) makes for a more accessible experience. We've found that customers are much more likely to alter settings on their browser, or device itself, rather than on each individual site. This way, you don’t have to fiddle around with site-specific settings to create a more accessible experience every time you visit a new page.
Customising your online experience
In certain circumstances customisable settings can still be really helpful. Creating accessible emails is much more difficult than creating accessible web pages (because of the massive variety of email clients out there). With that in mind, you can customise your contrast settings, text size, and opt in and out of plain-text emails in your Octopus online account.
Accessibility and Inclusion off the web
Our Priority Services Register
Customers with a wide range of different access needs are eligible for our Priority Services Register (PSR). You can add yourself to the register in the “Priority Services” section of your account. Once on the PSR, you can take advantage of services designed to make life easier, for example: You can nominate someone to take care of your account for you, we can install a smart meter if you are unable to read your meter yourself, and you can set a passphrase for our representatives to use to identify themselves with. You can read more on our dedicated Priority Services Register page.
We’re signed up to the Vulnerability Commitment
As signatories of the Vulnerability Commitment charter, we guarantee that all customers can call without incurring a premium rate charge, and a free phone number can be given to customers in financial hardship where appropriate. It also ensures that we provide at least one alternative form of communication in addition to phone contact (although we have many, including phone, email, post, and various social media platforms), and that customers can have paper versions of all billing communications made available where this is appropriate for their needs. You can read about other Vulnerability Commitment principles here.
Our accessible phone service
We use Twilio telephony software to make our phone service more accessible. When customers call, Twilio recognises phone numbers from previous calls and loads account specific information. This way, our team has important information on hand from the very beginning of a call, and Twilio can even help forward a customer’s call to an energy expert that is already familiar with their needs.
Get account help via video chat with a British Sign Language interpreter
We work with SignVideo to connect our Deaf BSL customers with an energy specialists via instant video relay service. Just click below and you’ll be connected with a BSL interpreter via live video service. They’ll then ring through to one of our energy specialists and relay your questions.
Submitting meter readings with phone IVR
So long as you have your phone number linked to your online account (and you haven’t got multiple accounts with us) we give you the option to submit meter readings with "Interactive Voice Response", or IVR. IVR allows people to interact with a phone system using their phone’s keypad (or their voice). Providing multiple channels for submitting meter readings reduces barriers for customers who experience communication anxiety (as well as a range of other access needs).
Catering to customers who speak different languages
Our team of energy experts can cater to speakers of over 40 different languages, from Gaelic to Gujarati! If there’s a language you’re more comfortable speaking when you call us up, you can let us know via your online account.
We’ve put a lot of work into making sure our online experience is accessible to screen-reader software. Still, if you'd prefer to receive braille bills, please email email@example.com
Accessible In-Home Display
We’ll soon be trialling the Trio, an accessible "talking" Smart Meter In-Home Display for blind and visually impaired customers, which will speak the contents of each screen out to you. It’s been tried, tested and approved by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). The Trio shows energy use for electricity and gas smart meters and can be configured to work with whichever smart meters you have installed. If you’re interested, you can find out how Trio's In-home Display work here.
Our customer experience is constantly evolving
We're constantly working to make our customer experience more accessible and inclusive.
Even when you design with accessibility in mind, every site and service is unique, and we understand there’s always a chance we might have missed something. For that reason, the best way to guarantee accessibility is to test. We test our services with a range of different users, and techniques, from screen reader software to colour blindness simulators. We also make sure to test future code preemptively, so that any issues can be spotted before they head into the code base.
We love to hear from you!
We understand that we can never be perfect - we’re a fast moving company, so if you spot anything we could be doing better, please do give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is accessibility a focus for you as a web-developer? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch via email@example.com
If you’re interested in finding out more about accessibility and inclusion at Octopus…
- Why not check out comprehensive guide to web accessibility at Octopus Energy.
- Here's some tips for designing specifically for web users who experience anxiety.
- Read our findings from our original accessibility audit, way back in 2016.
- Our head of front-end development, Ashley Firth, wrote a book about designing websites for users with a wide range of different access needs. It's suitable for beginners and experts, as well those who work with web content but aren't necessarily developers themselves. You can read more about it here, or buy a copy of Practical Web Inclusion & Accessibility here.
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