As memories of a carefree summer fade and the coming winter revs up its engines, so the storms of complaints about businesses seem to have become deafening. From bitter disputes on trains about autumnal service glitches and painful season ticket price rises, to the furore over 10% fuel bill hikes, it seems that everyone has something to moan about. So when I was unexpectedly treated to excellent customer service – and from a utility company as well – it made me stop in my tracks.
Having been told by the Prime Minister to switch and fix or forever hold my peace, I sat down this weekend to hit the comparison and cashback sites to grab myself a bargain. Ignoring any and all marketing communications and offers I may have been exposed to in the preceding months by ‘the Big Six’ providers, I set out single-mindedly, like millions of others, to find the cheapest provider in the shortest possible time.
No sooner had I booted up, however, I noticed in my inbox (not my junk mail or any other funky filter that Gmail provides these days to thwart email marketers), the following email addressed to me personally from the personal address of a real person at my current provider, Eon:
Dear Mr BlandAs per your email dated 8 October regarding the addresses held on the national database for you and your neighbour’s property.I can advise I have now received confirmation from them to confirm the address has been amended for your property. As we do not supply your neighbour’s property we were unable to amend their details but did pass on the information you supplied to the current supplier of the property to discuss with their customer.I hope this information is of assistance to you but should you have any further questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate in contacting me by email or by phone on 0345 301 5329.Yours sincerely[Name removed]Customer Service Advisor
The email was a follow up to some brief communication 6 weeks ago to resolve a minor administrative error relating to our house electricity meter. Having solved my problem swiftly the first time, Eon had then pursued the matter, on their own accord, with my neighbour’s supplier and succeeded in correcting the same issue with their meter without them having to lift a finger. Eon had then bothered to let me know how it turned out without me ever asking.
Now, I know that this isn’t the most electrifying tale but then Utility companies, and many other largely commoditised services that we rely on (banking, insurance etc), just aren’t. It’s not their fault.
But that’s when excellent customer service – above and way beyond the call of duty – really stands out head and shoulders above the marketing noise. As a customer, this experience had more impact on my purchasing decision than all the unsolicited marketing from them, their competition or from the comparison and cashback sites trying to capture the market. More even than the Prime Minister, dare I say it.
Eon achieved cut through when I was at my least approachable and retained my business by demonstrating excellent customer service which highlights to me that of all the strategies and tactics developed to appeal to the ‘Experience Economy’, good service is by far the most effective.
And to prove it, I am spreading the good will and recommending E.ON’s Fixed 1 year electricity plan if you haven’t fixed already! The electricity is reasonable but the service is outstanding.