Each time you refer one of your customers to us, you’re making a huge difference to someone’s life.
We caught up with Natalie, a Customer Service Advisor at British Gas, to find out how being able to refer customers to us helps her provide excellent customer service.
Tell us a little bit about you…
My name's Natalie, I’ve been an Advisor at British Gas for a year. Previously I worked in occupational health and I’ve seen first-hand how severely debt and money worries can affect people’s lives.
When I was younger I built up some credit card debt so I understand what it’s like when you’re struggling to pay your bills and don’t know what to pay first.
I was lucky enough to have family to help me deal with my debts but I know that not everyone has that, which is why I want to ensure that I set up affordable arrangements for all my customers and help them out of energy debt.
Why do you refer your customers to StepChange Debt Charity?
Our partnership with StepChange Debt Charity means that no matter how severe my customer’s debt problems, I can always offer a solution because we can give them access to the free, independent and practical advice they need to help get their situation under control.
How do you decide when to refer?
When a customer is unable to afford their consumption, an extended payment plan to repay arrears is unaffordable or it’s clear that other debts are affecting their ability to manage their finances, I explain that they may benefit from free and impartial debt advice. If the customer is happy, I offer to transfer them directly through to the StepChange Debt Charity Helpline so they can immediately start to get the help and advice they need.
How has the partnership made a difference to your customers?
I was recently speaking to a customer called Katie, a single mother with two young children who had built up energy arrears of over £2,000. We’d been attempting to contact her unsuccessfully for quite some time, so had no choice but to start the process of obtaining a warrant to install pre-payment meters in her property.
Receiving details about our warrant application finally prompted Katie to get in touch with us. She’d been struggling financially for so long that she couldn’t see a way out of her debts and had been too scared to get in touch with us.
We discussed her arrears and ongoing costs to try and agree an affordable monthly payment amount but with her other outgoings she didn’t feel she could afford the repayments. After talking through the different types of support that British Gas could provide, I explained the additional advice that StepChange Debt Charity could offer. She agreed to be transferred and completed a full debt advice appointment, which involved fully assessing her income, outgoings, debts and assets, receiving additional support on understanding what expenses are considered priorities, budgeting advice and a welfare benefits check.
Within a couple of weeks, we’d received a proposal from StepChange Debt Charity offering a monthly repayment towards the energy arrears, with an allowance built into her budget to cover her ongoing consumption. By working together, we were able to help Katie take control of her finances and avoid having a pre-payment meter installed.
If you’d like to find out more about how working together can help your customers, please email us.