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Testing our accessibility and effectiveness

EWON awareness surveys

Our extensive community outreach program, stakeholder engagement and communications activities aim to reduce the number of complaints to EWON. We do this by educating consumers, small business and community workers about energy and water issues, energy and water providers’ complaints processes and the assistance available for customers experiencing financial hardship.

At the same time, it is critical that energy and water consumers are also aware of their right to access our service if, or when, something goes wrong and they cannot access assistance via other channels.

It is a significant challenge to create an ongoing level of EWON awareness that ensures customers are aware of their right to seek our assistance when they need us. And it is difficult to gauge how effective we, and our members who are also required to promote EWON, are at achieving this objective.

At our request, in 2016/2017 Energy Consumers Australia began including two questions in its half yearly consumer sentiment surveys, designed to measure the level of prompted and unprompted awareness of energy Ombudsman services amongst Australian consumers.

The first question gauges unprompted awareness by asking: “If you had a complaint about your electricity or gas services which you could not resolve by talking to your retailer or network company, which people or organisation[s] would you contact?”

Interestingly, the response to the unprompted awareness question has increased substantially. In 2017/2018, 43% of NSW consumers surveyed responded with “Ombudsman”; this is up 13% from last year. Similarly, 10% answered specifically “Energy/Industry Ombudsman” — up 4% from 2016/2017.

The second question gauges prompted awareness by asking consumers who did not express awareness to the above question: “How familiar are you with an organisation called the Energy Ombudsman, which assists consumers with complaints about energy?”

The percentage of people who responded that they were familiar or very familiar with the term “Energy Ombudsman” in NSW remained steady at between 27% and 30% across the 18 / 24 month survey period.

While unprompted awareness has positively increased, these surveys are online which means many people, especially those of a non-English speaking background and those without digital access, are not represented.

We continue to work to ensure NSW consumers are aware of our services so they can contact us when they need us.

Customer satisfaction surveys

When a customer contacts EWON, most often, we offer them a referral to their provider’s specialist complaints team. This direct contact from the provider’s senior dispute resolution staff, provides another opportunity to resolve customer issues directly. We have found that this process can also empower the customer in their future dealings with their provider.

We ensure customers know they can contact us if they are dissatisfied with the outcome. However, if we do not hear from the customer, we do not know if they are satisfied or if they decided not to return to us for any other reason. We therefore conduct quarterly surveys to seek customer feedback and gauge their level of satisfaction with the referral process. 

There are three key purposes for conducting the survey. One is to find out the level of satisfaction with EWON’s advice and service. The second is to confirm member adherence with the agreed referral process which requires providers to contact their customers within three business days. The third is to ensure that the outcome of the complaint was agreed by both the customer and the provider.

Results of the surveys were consistently high throughout 2017/2018.

We were especially pleased with the number of customers who said they would recommend our service, evidenced by a high Net Promoter Score (NPS) of + 55 for the January to March 2018 survey – three points above our annual average of +52. Our quarterly surveys will continue in 2018/2019. 

  • 77% of customers were satisfied with our service
  • 81% of customers rated the manner of EWON staff as excellent or good
  • 80% rated the knowledge of EWON staff as excellent or good
     
  • 78% of customers were satisfied with the referral process
  • 63% of complaints were resolved by the provider
    - 75% of these customers were fully satisfied with the outcome
    - 22% of these customers felt obliged to accept the provider’s outcome
     
  • 37% of complaints were not resolved by the provider
  • 54% of investigations were still in progress with the provider
    - 27% of these customers didn’t agree with the outcome the retailer offered
    - 15% of these customers were not contacted by the retailer
  • 18% of all customers offered a referral in 2017/2018 returned to EWON for an independent investigation