The end has to justify the means…


I recently had to phone my energy company. It’s often hard to get through to an agent so I was expecting a long wait.

To my pleasant surprise, I got through to a human being within a minute. Not only that, she was excellent – polite and professional, and focused on my needs. She took full ownership of the situation and sorted everything out.

All in all, a good customer experience. And yet, when I got an e-mail asking for feedback, I said I wasn’t happy and wouldn’t recommend the company. Even though I rated the agent 5 out of 5!

Anyone who knows me may think that it’s just because I can be an awkward so and so, but it’s much more simple than that:

The reason that I had to phone was because I had received my latest bill. It gave me a full breakdown of my usage and payments and my account balance. It also showed I had the best deal I can get from them at the moment. And it gave me a projection of my usage and costs for the next 12 months. So, lots of useful information which I appreciated.

What I didn’t appreciate though, was that they had decided to increase my monthly payment by 25%. The bill explained I would use more energy over winter and they wanted to make sure that I didn’t go into debt.  It may seem reasonable but the information on the bill showed that my payment should stay the same.  If they increased the payment I would end up with a massive credit on my account.

So that’s why I had to phone, and that’s why I wouldn’t recommend them. Customers value information, but it has to be useful. The energy company had used the information to try justify taking more money from me. The bill should have said that my payments should stay the same. I got the impression they gave me lots of facts and figures to convince me to accept the increase in payment. All so they could have an improved cashflow.

And the lesson from this? – if you want your customer to do something, make sure the information you send them explains why!


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