By Maximilian Clarke

The UK’s energy regulater, Ofgem, is considering taking action over EDF Energy over the way the ‘Big 6’ energy giant has handled a record number of complaints.

Commenting on the news, the chief executive of complaints handling software, Charter UK, says the UK’s energy regulators should take the lead of the Financial Services Authority in their handling of complaints about financial services providers.

Speaking to Fresh Business Thinking, Paul Clark said: “With another member of the ‘Big 6’ energy firms facing the prospect of hefty fines due to inadequate complaints handling processes and systems, it is clear that the regulator Ofgem is considering tighter regulation on how the industry handles complaints. Ofwat is also announcing plans to change the way water is priced to encourage the water industry to focus more on customer concerns. It is clear that the utilities sector must review how it currently handles and manages complaints.

“Utility companies need to have the right processes systems in place in order to capture and record every single customer interaction and be able to respond accordingly. It can be challenging to do this with so many different channels now available, such as email, phone, fax, letter, twitter and other social media sites. Quite often, customer interactions — including complaints - are captured and dealt with by many fragmented systems, which can lead to confusion and inaccuracies. But in a regulated sector, this siloed approach is simply not fit for purpose.

“Forward-looking utility companies could choose to look at the process improvements and regulatory changes going on in the financial services sector and use these changes as a guide. With the FSA introducing much tighter regulation with regards to complaints handling, significant investment has been put into the systems and processes involved by banks and insurers.

“The utilities sector needs to move towards a similar approach now — analysing the root causes of complaints and investing in systems, processes and training for front-line staff before the regulators take a heavy-handed approach to complaints management in the sector.”

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