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Northern Power Grid customer service round table

I was recently invited to take part in a round table conversation on the subject of delivering great customer service.

It probably goes without saying that I’m a massive fan of any organisation who looks to learn more about their customers with a view to improving their customer experience.

The organisation in question was Northern Power Grid – the northern distributor of electricity who “keep the lights on, the kettles boiling and the phones charged for 8 million people across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.”   

They deal with consumers and businesses alike, and other attendees for the group included Northumbrian Water and the Hanro Group

They’ve a unique challenge when it comes to customers though as unless you’ve experienced a power cut, or requested a new connection in a property – you’ve most likely never heard of them!

In a perfect world, they maintain supply, sit quietly in the background and do what they need to, to maintain the network supply. It’s more than likely, most people won’t be able to articulate who they are and what they do which is where their challenge arises.

Engaging and delivering a service to customers who don’t know who they are, and why they’re there is difficult. In the event of a power cut, people just want their supply restored in as fast a time as possible, and that’s stressful for everyone including NPG who are already on the back foot in a situation like that – if it’s not a planned outage.

I’ve worked with a number of utility businesses including Southern Water who were able to boost customer engagement by, of all things, inviting customers to one of their water treatment works!

Apparently, once customers understand the amount of work and effort that goes into cleaning and recycling their water, it shifts customers’ appreciation of what’s involved and, more importantly what their bills contribute towards.

However, NPG are investing time and effort to understand what customers want – both consumer and business and to work towards improving on what good work they already do.

I’m for one keen to keep a track on their progress. Good luck to them!