11 June 2021 News
NIE Networks, which looks after the electricity networks throughout Northern Ireland, has launched a detailed plan to hone its ability to both identify and provide the best possible support to the most vulnerable in society in the coming years.
Its Vulnerable Customer Strategy 2021-2024 sets out how it will ramp up the level of support it already supplies to those domestic customers who are critically dependent on electrically-powered equipment – such as life-protecting technology to support independent living and medical equipment - or who are identified as needing extra support due to their personal characteristics or circumstances.
NIE Networks has set out a nine point plan to reach that aim, one which includes ambitious, but achievable targets which will seeks to ensure every vulnerable customer receives the help they need, when they need it.
It has a goal to increase the number of customers in its Medical Customer Care Register by 25% by 2024 by promoting the service through employees, stakeholders and the media. The register is a list of customers who may rely on electrical medical equipment in their home to live - such as feeding, lifting or other systems - who are regularly updated by a member of the NIE Networks team during a power outage.
In order to keep the Medical Customer Care Register up to date and to remind those on it of the benefits of the service, it has also pledged to contact all customers on the register once every two years. And NIE Networks will develop a specialist team for contact with vulnerable customers so any customer will be able to choose to speak to specially-trained agents.
Similarly, it plans to deliver regular JAM (Just-a-minute) Card friendly training for all employees who come into contact with customers to help them identify and support vulnerable customers and work more closely with other organisations to agree a new system for customer referrals customers need to be signposted elsewhere.
NIE Networks will also provide the skills they need to help them communicate with non-English speaking customers; it will improve the service for those with hearing or speech difficulties by introducing the RNID-approved Relay UK service; improve employee ID cards to make them easier for customers to check when calling at properties; contact customers and stakeholders every year to report on progress of the strategy and hear how it can be improved further.
Ronan McKeown, Customer & Market Services Director at NIE Networks, said: “At NIE Networks, we want to continually improve our customer service. We work closely with the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator to deliver the goals of its Consumer Protection Programme.
“This strategy aims to take the Consumer Protection Programmes’ broad themes and tailor them into an ambitious strategy appropriate for our customers. It details the many services which we offer customers. Many of these services rely on the skills and competence of our employees and we’re delighted that the ideas for improvement have come from them and other valued stakeholders.”
Ronan McKeown, Customer & Market Services Director at NIE Networks