26th Feb 2018
Centrica, which owns British Gas, is cutting jobs in response to its “weak” performance at the end of 2017.
British Gas lost 750,000 domestic customers in 2017, leaving the firm with 7.8 million UK customers.
Centrica has put the job losses down to intense competition and customers using more digital services to get in touch with the company. However, the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) shows that, while customers are using digital services, most utilities consumers (around 56%) still use the telephone when they want to get in touch with customer service departments.
Losing customers in numbers like that suffered by British Gas can be a sign of consumers looking for better experiences elsewhere. In 2017, The Institute of Customer Service released a six-point checklist for utilities companies, in order to help them better their customer service. Points on the list include ensuring staff feel fulfilled so they in turn offer a better experience to customers and recognising when customers want a fast, efficient experience and when they want empathetic and expert service.
In the latest UKCSI, British Gas scored 75.1, which is slightly above average for the utilities sector (74.4). The all-sector average score in the UK is 78.1. The company’s score has dropped 0.3 from its score of 75.4 in the UKCSI in January 2017.
Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute, says: “Customer service isn’t something that is ‘nice to have’. Evidence exists to suggest that a well thought out – and consistently well executed – service strategy delivers a return on investment.”
She adds: “You only have to look at the market share of supermarket retailers and the latest current account switching data to see that customers are driven more by experience than price.”