By Erica Stephenson
In my job, and in an ideal world, all calls should be handled with super fast efficiency, passing them on to the relevant person so the query can be equally speedily dealt with.
But as our customers become savvier and green initiatives take on a higher and higher public profile, there’s a need for more information, so a simple call is just not as simple as it used to be!
Callers now request, and sometimes demand more information, as they are inundated with data, statistics and government schemes – the most logical point of contact or a place to start all begins with the first person that answers their call. I think in some ways, the job is a test-ground for the rush of interest that the likes of Green Deal might bring.
A great deal of our calls are fielded by our Advice Centres across the UK, and these can range from every day householders, to farmers and small businesses. Sometimes though, a few get lost in the system and we get a gem of a person calling up, just wanting someone to listen to them, having been shunted from pillar to post.
With the recent proposed changes to Feed-in Tariffs, we had a hectic week of calls from home owners and installers, all asking the same question… how will this affect me now? These calls were sent on to the advice centres, and we could only imagine how busy their day was.
A lot of our research has a long-term impact in terms of public interest. To be honest, something would be wrong if it didn’t. Recently we have been getting some calls in regards to the results of the heat pump trials which were first published last year. As this project was managed by the Technology Team, all calls where directed to them, but callers were also directed to our website where there’s lots of additional information.
Sometimes, as with any job when you’re the first point of public contact, we are not so lucky and get irate callers – who occasional veer rather towards the abusive side.
This is a rarity of course, and with perseverance, we are able to help most people at the first point of contact – it’s amazing how much you pick up about sustainability, green-tech etc. in a remarkably short time. We can’t help everyone though – we’re not that good – so for those we can’t help, we forward them on to our Customer Services Department.
Every now and then we’ll get a concerned member of the public, wanting to check the legitimacy of certain companies who are trying to sell them services of various kinds – of course there are lots of interest areas in our organisation, so who this type of call is fielded to of course depends on the nature of the company in question.
As well as the calls that are about helping people work their way to the right info on energy-saving, a significant amount of our calls however are cold callers wanting to sell us something – again, not such a surprise. These are sent on to our Procurement Department, where their relevance and legitimacy to what we need and indeed, can afford, will be toughly judged.
With so many new and not-so-new projects on the go, our day is varied in regards to who we speak to. From our Energy Saving Trust Recommended services, to the Fleet Hero Awards, to our newest project LEAF (The Local Assessment Energy Fund) there is always something to keep us busy.
There’s also the odd case of mistaken identity. We occasionally get confused for The British Gas Energy Trust, which is a body that helps the public struggling to pay their fuel bills. This is one of the easier jobs, second only to wrong numbers: we give them the correct number to call, and clear up any confusion. There’s nothing worse than being lost in the wrong system.