Archive for June 2011

A couple of days ago British Gas learned what it costs to have poor customer service.

The story is a catalogue of disasters (or opportunities) for British Gas who have been fined £2.5 million as a result of them not listening to, and acting upon, customer complaints. Just think about that for a moment…. £2.5 million pounds taken out of profits because of not engaging properly with their customers.

This fine has happened because British Gas operate in a regulated market and Ofgen can levy fines for this type of behaviour. But what happens in those markets that are not regulated – like the environment for most businesses? Chances are one or two things (maybe both) can happen. First off – as we are British – we tend to complain to everyone except the folks who might be able to address the problem. If we’ve had a bad meal in a restaurant, we are more likely to tell our family and friends afterwards than the staff at the time. Apparently this is because we don’t like to “make a fuss” as my Mother used to put it. The other thing that will happen is we are unlikely to go back to that restaurant. So the restaurant never gets to hear of the problem or get a chance to put things right.

With British Gas, they did get to hear of the problems and – when they thought the matter had been dealt with – closed the file. It didn’t matter if the customer was still unhappy and thought that more could be done, as far as British Gas were concerned is was game over. So lots to put right with British Gas at the moment to ensure they do not get additional fines. But, at least it’s been brought to their attention (and ours) and they have the opportunity to do something about it.

So, how open are you with the problems that are raised by your customers and how are they handled? Even if you do not operate in a regulated market – you can still be “fined” by the customer as a result of lost business and decreased reputation.

And what are you doing to make sure that feedback, improvements and comments are welcomed and acted upon?

Or, are are you hoping that your customers are like my Mum and will rarely “make a fuss”?