DATE

March - July 2019

AUDIENCE

National Policy Shapers, Local Place Makers, Customers

ENGAGEMENT

2,275

OBJECTIVES

To gain a deeper understanding of your priority areas by estimating your willingness to pay for improvements to our network and services as well as your willingness to accept payment for any downgrade in service.

YOUR COMMENTS & OUR RESPONSES

You told us that on average you’d be willing to pay £1.40 for the optimal level of supply, where planned works are conducted with no disruption to supply. There was a significant difference in your willingness to pay for this option compared to the next best level where 99% of properties are restored within 12 hours, for which you were willing to pay £0.55. 

Considering this feedback, we determined that in the next regulatory period, from 2021-2026, we will commit to restore supply to the ECV and your appliances, following a planned interruption, within 12 hours, every time. We will also introduce penalty incentives for performance to restore supply faster than we have been over the past 5 years.

After receiving positive feedback on the trial of our new appointment system, we tested customers willingness to pay for the service, traded off against competing service enhancements and outputs. The appointment service was the most desirable of the improvements for small and medium sized businesses and the fifth of 13 options for domestic customers, who, on average, are willing to pay an additional £1.47 to secure the appointment service. 

In response to this feedback, we have decided that in the future if we do not have access to your appliances, we will leave a notification card asking you to give us a call. When you do call, we will then agree a 2-hour appointment slot with you for us to come and complete a gas safety check and safely turn your gas back on at the meter (known in the industry as a purge and relight).

You made it clear how important it is that we at least maintain our current standards, as our willingness to pay research showed that domestic customers expect to receive significant compensation (£1.71) for any detriment in service compared to what we are currently providing. 

We have found that our major incidents standards exceed customer’s and stakeholder’s expectations both in terms of their scope and the speed with which they are provided. Going forward we will ensure that this same level of support is provided when large-scale unplanned incidents occur. 

There was a high level of support from domestic customers and small and medium sized businesses regarding making every contact count by installing free carbon monoxide alarms and disseminating safety advice when meeting customers. Feedback showed that, on average, you are willing to pay an additional £1.91 to achieve the most improved level of service evaluated – 2,500 carbon monoxide alarms and safety advice provided to new gas customers annually. 

As a result of this feedback, in the future when undertaking normal activities, in addition to carbon monoxide awareness, our front-line staff will provide energy efficiency advice or referrals, to make every contact count. Our engineers will deliver bespoke messaging, similar to our third sector community partners, as part of their daily engagement with 60,000 – 70,000 homes during planned works to upgrade the gas network.

In the qualitative phase of our Willingness to Pay study you told us that our customer satisfaction performance already meets expectations and considered it to be a lower priority to improve compared to other thematic areas such as safety and the environment. You told us that we should only make further improvements to customer satisfaction where the cost of doing so is negligible to the bill payers. 

Taking this feedback on board, we will aim to continue achieving the current levels of customer satisfaction in the upcoming period but will adopt a revised questionnaire and methodology for calculating performance to better understand what areas we can improve on. 

We tested your willingness to pay for NGN to improve habitats or wildlife at our permanent sites against a range of other business plan outputs and it received medium importance, though more important for domestic customers than for business customers. On average, domestic customers asked were willing to pay an extra £1.25 to improve habitats for wildlife at 200 sites by 2026. 

We have decided to proactively manage our land assets by continuing our land remediation and holder demolition programme. We are committed to embracing biodiversity by creating homes for nature on 200 of our sites. We will also invest, from shareholder profits, in the planting of 40,000 trees in urban areas which will deliver environmental and aesthetic value to the communities that we serve.

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