Co-operative Energy: how not to do digital customer services

In Co-operative Energy: why you shouldn’t be a customer of theirs I highlighted the main reasons why, even if you’re a great fan of mutuals, it’s a wise idea to give The Co-operative Energy a very wide berth given their customer service failures, poor management and weak IT security.

There’s a small but telling exchange over on the Money Saving Expert forums which illustrate some of their problems:

Customer: I also replied to one of their messages on the 7th August …
Co-op Energy: … Can you confirm the date your email was sent? …
Customer: … 7th August

It’s this sloppy detail that is one part of Co-operative Energy’s problems. As with my own experiences, it’s as if the firm just isn’t listening even when you clearly and plainly provide a piece of basic information such as the date of a reply.

Quite probably at some senior level people in the Co-operative think what’s playing out on the Money Saving Expert forums is really good.

“Oh, we’re working really hard to turn round all the complaints online. We’re reaching out to customers and engaging with them directly on the forums they use.” That’d sound pretty good. Until you actually look at the frequent tone-deaf customer support and the repeated failure of the messages on the forum to generate positive responses.

That gap between grand sounding senior management plans and messy reality on the ground (note the echoes there of what politics is like) is far from rare in the commercial and semi-commercial worlds.

Indeed, understanding how to identify and remedy the gaps between the strategy and the reality takes up an increasing part of my time in my day job at Blue Rubicon, though thankfully our clients are rather better on all fronts that the painfully extended car crash that is The Co-operative Energy.

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