What is Customer First and why does it matter to us?
Way back in 2011, CNG became the first commercial gas supplier in the country to achieve the ‘Putting the Customer First’ accreditation. Anyone who knows us, will understand this early adoption of a customer-centric energy supply experience is in our DNA. We wanted to seek out ways that demonstrated our passion for service and getting third-party assessment and accreditation meant we would be held to account and challenged to achieve continuous improvement – essential to assure others this is more than a box ticking exercise!
Customer First is a national standard for customer service. It was designed to assist businesses in creating excellence in the customer experience by focusing on three pillars:
- Building Customer Relationships
- Maximising Market Awareness
- Developing Your People
We were the first in our industry to see the value in putting ourselves through this process and followed this up with the achievement of ‘Outstanding’ Investors in Customers.
Understanding the power of people
Putting customers at the centre of a business sounds obvious, but we were up against decades of negative experiences delivered by The Big Six and the consumers out there were exasperated and confused by their dealings with energy firms. Cutting through that noise meant really raising the bar.
Customer First provided us with some structure to ensure we walked the walk! This is a multifaceted process, we needed the right people, the systems and the right approach to service. Sounds easy, but finding people for whom excellence is a way of life is crucial. Our CNG-ers were then, and are now, the best of the best, handpicked for their diverse experience and passions that mean they can deliver above and beyond for our customers.
By agreeing to work towards the standard, our business processes were reviewed and challenged, we then had to work on our agreed targets over a six-month period before being assessed. Having this outside view forced us to really consider the experience from the customer perspective. We wanted energy to be simple, we knew that commercial customers wanted to run their businesses, not wait on hold to chat about gas! That’s still true today.
A lasting impact
Once we had gained our accreditation, we had the bug. We knew that there would always be more to learn, especially with our sights set on growth. So, every year since then, we’ve focused on gathering insights from our team and customers, working with our Customer First rep and ensuring we never stand still. In the next part of this blog series, we’ll be looking at the process in more depth, to give you a feel for how we’re working to better ourselves, then we’ll share our latest feedback from the 2019 accreditation and future goals.