Our focus on providing excellent customer service was born out of a shared desire in our early days – to be not too big to care. We’ve all been there – that feeling as a customer that you are just a number, that if something goes wrong the only way it will be resolved is if you make a big fuss. Several of us in the founding leadership at AfB had worked in other utilities where it felt as though customers were not always the priority, no matter what the marketing blurb said. So, we set off into our journey with that unifying thought.
In a newly competitive market, we wanted a reasonably objective and immediate way of getting feedback and measuring our success. So we launched ourselves in August 2017, not without some trepidation, into the world of Trustpilot. We were delighted to find that customers responded, and we started to see some great reviews. Meanwhile no other competitor seemed to be focusing in that area, and they were struggling at times to deliver for customers – the unsolicited reviews they were receiving clearly reflected that challenge.
Checking the scores became a bit of an obsession – while my daughter was curating her Instagram feed for likes, I was refreshing the AfB Trustpilot page just as frequently! We continued to pull away from the rest of the market, and learn from the issues that some customers were raising – it wasn’t wall-to-wall 5 stars, but there was always progress and learning.
Our journey as a business was evolving elsewhere – our people. If you’re not too big to care about each and every customer, the same has to be true for people. Otherwise the words don’t match the music, there’s a disconnect, a lack of authenticity and it shows. We were learning together as we grew in numbers and faced more challenges. The stresses and strains of life, and work as part of that, would come to the surface for individuals, and we kept to our ethos – not too big to care. Acting with honesty, integrity, inclusivity, always seeking to learn. You can read elsewhere in our blogs about our mental health and wellbeing approach, it’s what we do, part of who we are as a business, and it has helped so many people in the team, myself included, through crises big and not so big.
In the meantime, the most recent report on official complaints from the Consumer Council for Water shows volumes increasing, with some retailers seeing 50%+ increases. AfB is trending down, and amongst the very lowest figures. Our Trust score keeps climbing – we’re at 9.1 now, rated 5 stars, Excellent and we’re still market-leading. The competition has focused on trying to overhaul us in recent months. There have been PR spins such as who’s got the most 5-star reviews – stats can be spun any way you like! We’re still on top, and still working on improving, that job is never over.
The pleasing thing for me as leader of the business is that this is just what we do. It’s not a special project trying to improve our image. Our people really believe in what we are doing, and own it, it’s not someone else’s job – in our November 2018 engagement survey, 97% would recommend AfB as a great place to work, and believe that their manager genuinely cares about them. 94% know how their work contributes to the success of AfB, and are proud of the service we give, believing it to be the best in the market.
It’s really easy to get fixated on a single KPI, such as the TrustScore. It’s a sign of how far we have come since we launched the business in 2016, that we have a consistent, authentic, rounded identity, reflecting our customers and our people. 2019 is full of potential – bring it on!