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How to give great customer service in the digital age

Chris Roper,

21st October 2016

Ever wondered why it takes ages to speak to your energy supplier? Why snail mail is the preferred medium of the big suppliers? Or why it takes an eternity to get even small changes done?

In the age of swipes, likes, and Siri, many energy suppliers have struggled to keep up. Burdened by the inefficiencies of the past, these dinosaurs have failed to evolve with our changing needs and behaviour. So it’s little wonder that their customers are leaving at the rate of 120,000 a month.

Look around and you can see how much the world has changed, even in just the last few years. According to Deloitte, 76% of UK adults own smartphones, and more than half of UK smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes of waking.  

People expect more, want more, and need it quicker than ever before. We want taxis, food, and last minute birthday gifts at the tap of a thumb. If Uber, Ocado, and Amazon can do it – why can’t energy suppliers? Why must you wait over six weeks for a final bill? Why waste twenty minutes submitting a meter reading when you could do it in seconds from a smartphone? 

A Which? study recorded the times taken to get through to 23 energy suppliers. Of their results, the longest was 14 minutes. Of the Big Six, the average was 4 and a half minutes (the longest was over 9 minutes). How easy would it be if you could email your query instead and get a response in under an hour, leaving you to continue with your day? Or to drop a quick Facebook message while flicking through your news feed? Giving customers the right channel to get in touch is essential, which is why we give fast, flexible email and Facebook support.

Technology helps make the incredibly complicated world of energy simple, but for suppliers using older systems, it can hinder more than help. No one-size-fits-all works, systems must be versatile enough to cope with the many different types of customer, meter, and supplier.

Take smart meters, for example. For years, suppliers would get a meter reading every six months (on average). Smart meters send them every thirty minutes. Diving into such an ocean of data will need the right equipment, and skills, if the pearly insights are to be found. Splashing about in oversized armbands just won’t cut it.

There’s a lot of information pinging around to get those electrons and gas into homes and businesses, and getting the technology to handle every permutation is a massive challenge. That’s why we’ve built our own. By engineering our own software, we can put in what we need, and omit what we don’t. We can change it when we see a better way, add extra functions, and make it look and perform exactly how we want it to. This makes us very flexible.

Better yet, we’ve built our technology around our customers. It's not enough to know the devices people use – you need to understand how people interact with them, how to make the experience fun and visually appealing. You need a bit of psychology, a dash of design, and a ton of cool tech to make a user experience smooth, effortless, and enjoyable. And, since our customers are the heart of what we do, we can put in place improvements that you suggest, making it work the way you want it to.

The digital age needs a digital energy supplier. At Octopus we’ve turned energy on its head – thrown away the call centres, confusing bills, and tired systems. Instead, we’ve combined our knowledge of energy, our understanding of customers in the 21st century, and a bunch of really talented people to create a better customer experience for everyone.

Want an energy supplier that fits around you?

Hey! Just so you know, your device is fully charged and you're still charging it. Removing the charger will avoid degrading your battery 😊

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