While the basic concept of Customer Service seems to be a relatively straightforward process, the harsh reality is that the role is much more complex than many give it credit for.
When examining the skills base within most organisations, few roles require so much specialist expertise within a single department, in addition to the numerous people skills needed when interfacing with stakeholders as a Customer Service Advisor.
The ability to show empathy, be adaptable to changing circumstances and to remain calm/professional are just a few of the skills which are required of anyone who works within a Customer Service Team.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw large-scale changes in the work habits of both private and public sector workers across the UK. Some businesses/charities closed their doors temporarily, others sadly did so permanently, because of the impact COVID-19 had on the global economy.
For those companies whose staff remained in an office-based role, and those who became remote/home workers, most saw their numbers reduced significantly as companies looked to maintain business as much as possible whilst safeguarding staff.
The impact on teams was felt just as severely within Customer Service Departments whose normal support networks were not as readily available and who themselves were working with reduced staff.
Within the energy sector alone, many customers experienced difficulty in reaching consultants/suppliers as they scrambled to make savings where they could in extremely challenging times. Several of the bigger suppliers reduced staffing numbers as they moved to home working models with at least one resorting to significantly reducing the working hours of their own Advisors for anything other than emergency enquiries.
Despite these pressures, the Service Department at Northern Gas and Power maintained their staffing levels safely and, in a manner, to ensure no loss of service to its customers. It was at this time that the true potential of the department was realised as the expertise contained within the team negated the need for them to overly rely on other internal or external experts for anything but the most complex of circumstances. This was a deliberate strategy implemented from the recruitment of the individuals, their initial development within the role and their subsequent continuous professional development.
To facilitate this, most of the team started their journey as sales staff before being recruited into a Customer Services role. They are developed over time to become specialists in a number of other priority areas which means the department can boast of having Key Account Managers, Energy Managers and Resolution Specialists to supplement the compliance and billing validation expertise already on the team. This level of knowledge, along with the availability of support, makes our service provided invaluable to our customers.
Best of all, these staff possess the greatest skill of all: they can talk to customers in a manner which leaves them feeling reassured and valued by Northern Gas and Power.
By David Cole
“David is a former senior Police Officer who retired from the service in 2020 and has now worked with Northern Gas & Power for just over a year as the Customer Services and Key Account Team Manager. With a wealth of investigative and strategic experience David has managed teams both large and small in a variety of roles to meet the needs of the public and now the private sector. As a relative newcomer to the Energy Industry David has brought his considerable knowhow and enthusiasm into the role and developed/professionalised the team into the efficient model it is today.”