Connecting with Customers

Posted on: 02/09/2020

I’m Scheduling Manager at Wales & West Utilities. I lead a busy team of twelve: tasked with scheduling work for our engineering teams, and every year we play a part in connecting 11,000 homes and businesses to the gas network, while also making some 3,000 alterations to individual customer’s gas services.

I think I speak on behalf of most of my team – and probably most people when I say that 2020 has been the most challenging year of both my personal and professional life.

During the three-month Coronavirus lockdown, our priority was keeping our customers and colleagues safe. That meant a temporary suspension of all but emergency work and essential maintenance with connections and alterations put on pause, although new requests for our services kept coming in.

With things slowly getting back to a new normal, we’ve now restarted connections and alterations work, but with a three-month backlog of customer requests to get through, our scheduling team is working harder than ever before. Put simply, this means that it’s going to take longer for you to get your gas connection. Usually after you’ve paid for your connection it takes 3-5 days for us to contact you with a plan date, but at the moment, that’s more like 8-10.

When work restarted, we found ourselves with 900 jobs across Wales and the south west of England to plan, compared to our usual running total of 150 to plan at any one time. We have been working hard to keep you updated if you’re waiting for a connection – by phone, email or text message – and I’m really sorry we’re not doing work as quick as you – or as we, would like. We’re prioritising work as much as possible, trying to minimise delays which then impact your own plans.

When it is time to do your work, we’re following the latest Government guidance to keep you and our teams safe. Before entering your home, our engineers will wash their hands with soap and water and put on disposable gloves. When they’re inside, they’ll wear face coverings and eye protection, and may ask anyone else in the house to stand in another room while they work. And while working in the street, they’ll social distance as far as possible, and would urge local people who may be passing to keep 2m away from work sites. Ahead of working at your house, we’ll ask you a few questions about your health. If you have Coronavirus symptoms, we’ll still do the work – but will take extra precautions. 

So, if you have recently made a request to have your gas supply altered or you’ve requested to connect to mains gas for the first time, rest assured our priority remains to complete it in a timely fashion. You can help us by making sure that your site is ready for the work date we give you: so make sure there are no skips, scaffolding, or anything else obstructing where we’ll be laying your new connection.  

We’re proud of our high standard of customer service, and we’ll do everything we can to complete your connection as safely and as quickly as possible. Our dedicated team will guide you through the connections process and make sure you are kept updated on our plans to complete your work.

Thank you for your patience and understanding at this challenging time.

Jenny Foster

Jenny is Scheduling Manager at Wales & West Utilities