Save time and money by reducing your contact to complaint ratio

Written by Wade Robertson
30 Mar 2023

Although a standard customer service call is relatively inexpensive to service, complaints cost a lot more due to their higher staff costs, ongoing payment challenges and Ombudsman fees. To save money, some suppliers develop their operations to reduce the incidents of contacts that become complaints.

What are the solutions?

Recognise complaints correctly

In keeping with the expectations set by Ofgem, Ofwat & other regulators, it’s very important to recognise when a customer is and is not complaining. However, after taking a more in-depth look we have found that suppliers are taking a particular risk averse stance on recording complaints, falsely inflating their figures. This could potentially lead to unnecessary noise in the operation, eventually feeding through into industry league tables such as the CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) customer service score.

To avoid this scenario, you must take a critical look at what is currently being recorded as a complaint and whether this truly met the criteria of X, Y or Z. An account sampling session is a good place for you to start and helps set standards across the organisation.

Resolve complaints quickly

Resolving complaints quickly greatly reduces the chance of incurring high servicing costs associated with escalated complaints.

The most common causes of customer complaints to energy suppliers are well known. Customer service, meter reads, and bills form around 70% of the total.

Long wait times and Customer Advisers unable to answer standard queries are two of the biggest causes of customer service complaints. In principle, these areas can be easily addressed through a general raising of standards.

Meter reads and billing issues provide a more significant challenge. Frontline staff should be given the higher level training and systems access they need to quickly resolve the common causes of complaints, especially metering and billing.

Address the root causes

The best way to stop a contact becoming a complaint is for the customer not to contact yourselves at all. Making it easy for a customer to submit accurate, timely meter reads and then use those reads for billing will remove a large proportion of total contact.

There are more ways to reduce the number and impact of complaints which will be covered later in this series of articles. Keep an eye on our LinkedIn page for our next article entitled ‘How empowering your frontline team increases first contact resolution’. This article highlights how empowering your frontline team to deal with simple complaints allows your complaints team to resolve more complex cases.

Case Study: Reducing complaints by 33% for medium sized supplier


Our client was recording a high number of complaints and wanted support in identifying where and how to make rapid improvements.


BFY utilised its team of subject matter experts to conduct a rapid review of the supplier’s approach to recognising complaints.

We ran workshops with the client’s regulation and compliance teams to assess its interpretation of the Ofgem regulation and challenged their thinking on how this should influence processes and guidance to front line agents.


A new complaint recognition process was formed and rolled out across the business, leading to a 33% reduction in complaint volumes for the following quarter.

If you would like to find out more about our complaints consultancy service, contact Joseph Cooper or Wade Robertson.

Wade Robertson

Wade specialises in Transformation, Value Creation and Project Management, helping clients to identify and deliver on opportunities of significant value.

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