M Neat: I think the difference, for us, or the way we see ourselves as being different is that customer engagement is something that's very, very transactional. Customers contact us primarily as a result of having a gas escape or a gas emergency. If you're very unlucky you'll probably do this two or three times in your lifetime. We're not looking to build relationships with people, necessarily, and that's our core reason for being, that's why we're here.
The nature of the contact, the urgency and the frequency, means that a transactional and unemotional response is absolutely fine most of the time; it's what customers want. They want us to appear efficient and they want us to take details very quickly. They're not looking for niceties and chat and relationship building. But there are other touch points with our customers and these are becoming much more acute and much more important to us where we've possibly created an enquiry, or worse, and, as a result of our actions in the field, we've probably created a complaint.
Our regulator expects us to engage with these customers on a very different level and in a very different way, so an emotional and an empathetic response. In order to outperform our regulated income, we need to find ways of creating operational efficiencies and this means having staff that can switch between transactional, unemotional activities and ones where there potentially is a need to build relationships. That's a place that we haven't been in previously; we've always had the benefit of being able to have discreet teams, complaint teams, enquiry teams, first call teams that actually take the emergencies, but, as time moves forward, we're looking for different agents that can do different things and probably show a degree of capability that we didn't recruit those people for in the first place.
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