Delivering customer excellence in 2021 and beyond

Clare Naunton, Customer and Stakeholder Experience Programme Director, National Grid

Clare Naunton, Customer and Stakeholder Experience Programme Director, National Grid

The UK energy sector is continuing to change at a pace. Decarbonisation, globalisation, and technology are accelerating as are the needs and wants of our customers. With the world changing against the backdrop of a global pandemic, here at National Grid, we continue to critically analyse how we best deliver for our customers.

Despite the turbulent times, our focus to improve how we deliver customer experience in the UK has remained a key priority. Our efforts really kickstarted a couple of years ago, when we brought the voice of the customer into the organisation for the first time and as a result of this launched our customer principles across our UK business. After many years of working in silos, we really challenged ourselves to do better for those we serve. Our customers provided useful feedback and as a result of these conversations, we identified key areas consistent across the board and used these to influence our behaviour. These principles centre on showing that we care, we are willing to be agile, we are trustworthy, transparent in our actions, and that we deliver value to our customers every day—CATTV for short. Although these were introduced a couple of years ago, the values that underpin them are very much pertinent to the world we live in today.

“For all the advancements in technology, the most important aspect to delivering an excellent customer experience is having the right culture in place—it lays the foundation for everything else.”

However, principles are simply mechanisms to drive thought. Without buy-in from colleagues, principles can fall down at the first hurdle. Like with any attempted step change, results don’t magically emerge overnight. And we wouldn’t want them to either because the learning that comes with a mindset shift is so valuable. Long-term embedded behavioural change is exactly what we wanted to achieve when introducing these principles and I’m really proud of the way teams across National Grid have listened and applied these values over the past few years.

Some of our planning teams in the business have come a long way in their customer experience journey in recent years. Yes, they dealt with customers every day but they needed a consistent plan of how to truly deliver service excellence. Fast forward to the present and teams now have single points of contacts in place for their specific customers, put themselves in their customers’ shoes, really listen to what their customers have to say and act on their feedback, and above all have really committed to delivering great service day in day out. To illustrate this further, on Christmas Eve last year, the Electricity Transmission team was asked by one of our customers to deliver a last-minute power outage. The team showed fantastic agility, high levels of empathy and delivered the outage. That what this is all about.

The example above is just one of many over the past few years that bring our customer principles to life. For all the advancements in technology, the most important aspect to delivering an excellent customer experience is having the right culture in place—it lays the foundation for everything else. We still have a long way to go in our journey to truly deliver customer excellence in everything we do, but by continuing to focus on our customer principles we are certainly on the right course to do so in 2021 and beyond.

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