Switch2 Blog

Getting customer service right: Understanding what residents want from community heating

Posted by Kirsty Lambert on 08-Dec-2017 15:38:26

This year's ADE Heat Conference saw Kirsty Lambert present how to get customer services right on community heating schemes. Heat networks can bring a variety of benefits to residents but only when they are fully informed about the system; how to use it, and get the most out of it. Watch our SlideShare for our key advice. 

Customer service and heating schemes

Meeting the challenges of community heating

  • Customer satisfaction and perception
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Reduce exposure to debt
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Vulnerable residents and keeping them safe
  • Budgeting and affordability on schemes
  • Changing demographics

At Switch2 we have found that the demographics are changing for district heating, 20 years ago, social housing was the dominant market for community heating, but we are increasingly seeing the private sector utilising this system.

What is the customer experience?

You need to consider what customers:

See, feel, hear and touch

What do residents see?

  • Bills
  • Equipment
  • Letters
  • Engineers

How do residents feel?

  • Trapped?
  • Lack of understanding
  • Unsure what they are paying for?
  • Sometimes, maybe even unwelcomed?

What do residents hear?

At times, conflicting messages from the supply chain (managing agents, developers, housing associations)

What do residents touch?

  • Ease of paying for their supply
  • Getting in contact with the heat supplier
  • Accessing the information they need

Ask your residents how you’re doing

  • Ask for regular feedback
  • Recruit an independent market research company
  • Look at customer touchpoints
  • Assess feedback and ratings regularly
  • Then create robust action plans

Lines of communications

In our industry we see the following lines of communications:

  • Smart equipment
  • Customer services, engineers and events
  • Via the client
  • Online, social media
  • Complaints and surveys

Customer communications is constantly evolving as technology enhances. Stay ahead of the game and make sure that your service provider offers varied customer touchpoints to ensure that your customer needs are met.

Case study: Sheffield City Council

  • Introduction of metering and PAYG across Sheffield
  • Early resident engagement is key for success
  • Dedicated on site team
  • Delivered savings and customer satisfaction across the scheme

How Switch2 delivers and responds

  • One stop shop customer services team for all resident enquiries
  • Pioneering smart metering
  • Welcome packs and resident engagement
  • Switch2 engineering team
  • Innovative payment solutions
  • Complying with Heat Trust
  • Robust complaint handling procedures

Key takeaways

  • The resident must be at the forefront of a community heating scheme
  • Don’t assume you know what your customers want or need – ask them
  • Be open and transparent with customers about the charges and the service they are entitled to
  • Why wait for Regulation? Let’s do the right thing for customers now
Heat Trust eGuide


Kirsty Lambert

Business Development Director at Switch2

A skilled director and leader with both operational and commercial experience, Kirsty has over 10 years’ experience in the community and district heating industry.