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© 2007 TMI Australia Pty Ltd

Improving Country Energy's Management of Complaints


Country Energy is a leading Australian energy services corporation owned by the New South Wales Government, with around 3,300 employees serving more than 780,000 customers. Country Energy manages Australia's largest power supply network.

The Problem

  • Country Energy was becoming increasingly concerned about the volume of complaints that were being escalated.
  • This was having a negative impact on the organisation's overall reputation in the market, as well as on customer satisfaction levels in particular.
  • In addition, an increasing number of complaints were being escalated to the Ombudsman's Office, which as well as being undesirable generally, was having a direct cost impact.  ( All such referrals incur a financial penalty.)
  • However, there was very limited motivation on behalf of the management and staff of the Country Energy call centres to address these issues.  This was because:
    • Their focus was primarily on service levels (i.e how long customers need to wait before their call is answered.)
    • The perception was that complaints take too long to resolve, thus tying up the line,
    • Staff were also fearful about being able to effectively handle angry customers,
    • And team leaders had neither the skills nor confidence to coach staff in this area

The Solution

TMI were called into assist.  Our approach was as follows:

  • In order to address the motivational issues, we developed a compelling business case to help educate the call centre staff about the detrimental impact poorly handled complaints were having on the organisation.
  • This also entailed ensuring greater alignment between the kinds of measures being used to assess performance.  That is, addressing some of the current disconnect that existed between the smooth operation of the centre vs. achieving effective complaints management.
  • Similarly, the actual implementation of change program was deferred until such time as the coaching skills and confidence of the team leaders could be addressed.
  • Only then was a customized full-day complaints training program rolled out to all staff.

The Outcomes

  • Country Energy were delighted to see a direct return on their investment and a significant change in terms of the behaviour of frontline staff.
  • Following the program, on average 95% of complaints are being resolved at the first port of call, up from an average of less than 80% previously.
  • Resolution time for complaints has dropped by half, and
  • Complaints referred to the ombudsman has been reduced by 25%.
  • Beyond these specific metrics, Country Energy has also reported a sense of greater staff morale and empowerment.

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