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Is technology to blame for poor customer service at Npower?

Npower has an ambitious aim: it wants to be the top ‘big six’ energy supplier for customer service by 2015. So I was intrigued to read an article in the Daily Telegraph claiming that the transition to new computer systems was to blame for its position at the bottom of the latest Which? customer service poll.

But I wonder if technology is the only culprit or whether there is a deeper underlying cultural issue here. It seems that customers’ main bugbear with Npower is late or inaccurate bills that take months to resolve, but is it the faulty billing system that is alienating customers, or the way the billing issues are being handled?

If call centre agents on the frontline are not given the information and authority they need to resolve customer issues then, however good their empathy, people handling and call handling skills, they are going to disappoint customers.

Another Daily Telegraph article concerning poor customer service, in August this year, suggests that Npower has “drastically improved its appalling customer service by granting call centre staff authority to resolve customer complaints on the spot.”

According to the same article, Director Guy Johnson has said that front line staff should be able to resolve 90% of problems for customers ‘on first contact’.

If that is the case, then Npower is definitely taking the right steps to create an empowered workforce and should be rewarded with a higher position in the Which? customer service poll next year.