Power NI, Northern Ireland’s leading electricity supplier was the first energy supplier in Northern Ireland to be awarded the British Standard for Inclusive Service Provision (BS18477) and has retained the Standard for the second year running.
The certification demonstrates that Power NI provides a flexible and inclusive service reassuring customers that they will do their best to look after their individual needs, regardless of their personal circumstances. Vulnerable circumstances can affect anyone at any time and all customers are different, with a wide range of needs, personal characteristics, and health.
BS 18477 ensures the adoption of fair and inclusive practices, helping organisations like Power NI to understand what customers have a right to expect from them and, by demonstrating best practice, give their customers more confidence in their service. It provides a framework to help organisations and their employees understand the underlying factors associated with vulnerable circumstances, and work to develop processes to support their needs.
Gwyneth Compston, Power NI CSR Manager commented, “The Standard gives our customers confidence that we will take time to talk to them, look after them and ultimately treat them fairly. Vulnerability can be transient, but our aim is to be as accessible as possible for all our customers. Our staff have worked extremely hard to achieve and retain the Standard and it is in fact recognition of a lot of work over quite a few years.”
The certification involves a thorough review of all parts of the business and as part of the assessment, Power NI staff who have been trained in the identification of customer vulnerability were interviewed, customer calls were assessed and the inclusive design of products and services were checked as well as the processes associated with data collection, protection and sharing.
It includes everything from the design of customer bills, range of payment methods available, staff training and levels of flexibility with those who are struggling to pay.
Gwyneth continued, “For many vulnerable people, calling up to speak with a customer services representative can be stressful, so I’m proud to say that our teams have worked hard to expand their knowledge and to adapt their communication style. Building upon the training our staff have received as part of the Standard, we are also JAM Card friendly, we are working to become Dementia Friendly and are hoping to transition to the ISO Standard in the coming months”
As a result of the ongoing cost of living crisis; customer circumstances are becoming more complex and it’s more important than ever to everyone at Power NI that services are fair and accessible to all.
About Power NI
Power NI provides 56.1% of the domestic market’s electricity needs and 49.3% of the commercial market (Northern Ireland Utility Regulator Report). Power NI, a local supplier which celebrated its 90th year in 2021, supports an extensive range of local community, environmental and sporting initiatives.
BSI is appointed by the UK Government as the national standards body, holds the Royal Charter, and represents UK interests at the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the European Standards Organisations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI). Formed in 1901, BSI was the world’s first national standards body.