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Customer personas give insight into customer values

Posted on: 21/01/2020

Getting customer service right first time is as important to us as it is to the 7.5m people across Wales and the south west of England who rely on us to keep them safe and warm.

We need to know who our customers are, how they feel about the gas services we provide and what’s important to them when we are working in their communities. This helps us improve the service we provide, knowing we are working to meet people’s expectations and the service they have paid for – and gives us more satisfaction in a job well done.

 Our costs to the customer are included in their gas supplier’s bill, so we don’t have customer records, and this makes it more difficult to get to know who our customers are. Our Customer Service Officers have around 20,000 customer doorstep conversations every year and this gives us a lot more customer insight, about how their feelings of our services and how we can improve what we do to better meet their needs. 

We have looked at combining our colleague customer insight with insight from customer research that identified characteristics of five different customer personas in our area. We then worked with experts to identify and define the main customer types we can expect to encounter out on the patch.

By associating key customers’ values, such as those who value environmental consideration or those who most value reliability and efficient service, alongside different customer demographic types, we are able to build better understanding of who our customers are.  With this information we can forearm our on-the-ground colleagues as well as those based in the office, to more effectively and confidently handle face to face and challenging customer conversations.

We’re starting this first as a pilot and want to test our findings further with stakeholders, before rolling out to the rest of our customer service colleagues.

As part of our ongoing customer engagement activities, customers told us that getting communication right goes a long way to making them feel valued. And being in possession of the facts about work near their homes, they say, helps build trust in us that we really do put their best interests as customers at the heart of what we do. 

And if this helps us provide better and sustainable high quality customer service as well as gaining the trust of our customers – then it doesn’t get much better than that.

Claire Edwards

Claire Edwards is Wales & West Utilities Customer Experience Manager