Lanes achieves magnificent 7 in complaint handling awards


Lanes Group plc has been shortlisted in seven categories of the Complaint Handling Awards 2018, which recognise excellence across UK industry in resolving customer complaints.

The drainage and utilities specialist is a finalist in every category it entered, and in more categories than any other organisation or business also in the running to win one of the coveted awards.

Entries were made on behalf of Lanes Group’s Utilities Division, the wastewater network services maintenance partner for Thames Water.

Lanes Utilities Director Andy Brierley said: “Being shortlisted in seven categories of the Complaint Handling Awards – more than half the 13 categories open to us – is recognition of the truly amazing work done by our teams, in partnership with Thames Water colleagues.

“We maintain the UK’s most complex drain and sewer network on behalf of 15 million wastewater customers across London and the Thames Valley region. Responding honestly, quickly, and transparently to complaints and concerns about our service is absolutely vital.

“The passion of our teams in supporting customers, the innovative ways we handle complaints, and the continuous effort we make to improve our service, so we get fewer of them, are all reflected in this amazing shortlisting success.”

Complaint Handling Awards judges have shortlisted Lanes Utilities in the following categories:

  • Best Utilities;
  • Product and Service Improvement – Improving the Customer Experience;
  • Proactive Complaints Handling;
  • Utilising Customer Reviews;
  • Managing Your People;
  • Leader – Andy Brierley;
  • Team – Utilities, Trains & Housing.

Lanes Utilities could point to significant investment in improving complaints handling, and innovative customer service training during 2016-17, which contributed to significant reductions in complaints over the 12-month period.

Initial complaints fell by 3.27%, repeat complaints by 52.7%, and complaint penalty costs, set by Ofwat, by 40%. During the same period, Thames Water’s Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) for wastewater services reached a record high of 4.34 for the first quarter of 2017.

Concerted effort by colleagues in both operational and support roles has contributed to this success.

In depth analysis has been carried out to better understand customer needs, what makes them happiest, and what upsets them most. A new complaint tracker system is helping resolve complaints more quickly and smoothly.

A happiness app has been introduced for operational teams, measuring the mood of the workforce and offering help to those with any problems that could adversely affect their wellbeing and the quality of their work.

New customer service training in a 360-degree video theatre, the first of its kind in the utility sector, is helping staff role play service scenarios, so they can see how best to delight customers, and avoid pitfalls that can trigger complaints.

Andy Brierley said: “One of the biggest factors is our ability now to work in integrated teams with our Thames Water partners in our new Customer Solutions Centre in Slough. We now work together as one team.

“This shortlisting success is a credit to all colleagues, both Lanes and Thames Water. We’re not going to rest here, though. We know we can improve customer service still further and that’s what we’re going to do in 2018.”

Winners of the Complaints Handling Awards will be announced at a ceremony held at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel in London on 22 February 2018.

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