SSE customers to have bills cut by £20 if they receive poor service

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Energy company SSE (LSE: SSE.L - news) has promised to give its customers £20 off their bills if they receive poor service.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, deputy chief executive, said the group wanted to show customers it was “really serious” about service, adding: “We are going to put our money where our mouth is.”

He told The Daily Telegraph : “It will also drive internal performance, because if we start making thousands of mistakes it’s going to cost us money.”

Mr Phillips-Davies, who has been appointed to succeed Ian Marchant as chief executive in the summer, said the company had budgeted “nothing” for the policy. “I don’t budget for failure,” he said. However, he said he would be “amazed” if SSE achieved 100pc compliance and did not have to pay out.

Under the new policy, SSE will pay customers if it fails to call them back when it says it will, transfers them to more than one call operator without their permission, or fails to let them speak to a manager when requested.

Mr Phillips-Davies said SSE was determined to eliminate the kinds of experience “where people are not helpful, hang up on you, you get transferred around and around and then disappear into the telephonic abyss”.

It will also pay out if it fails to honour promises to help customers save money or cope with their energy bills.

SSE disclosed last week that it had lost tens of thousands of customers over the past year, which Mr Phillips-Davies blamed on “interesting pricing offers” by some of its competitors, some of which had now been withdrawn.

However, while price was a “big determinant” of customers’ choice of supplier, with only about £20 between the major suppliers’ standard tariffs, he said: “If we provide the right level of service we will retain customers.”

All energy (Other OTC: AFSE - news) customers can already get cash back if their supplier makes mistakes over issues such as meter readings and bills, under rules set by regulator Ofgem.