Page 3: The external environment
The opening up of competition in the domestic electricity market will increase the number of competitive customers nationally from 50,000 to over 23 million and produce a major change in the relationship between Yorkshire Electricity and its existing customers. With the advent of choice, customers will not be prepared to accept poor quality service and will be able to change if they feel that they are not being treated fairly. Equally, Yorkshire Electricity will be able to seek out customers beyond its traditional boundaries.
Although Yorkshire Electricity needs to continue to strive for further business efficiencies across all its activities, it also needs to ensure it retains existing customers and wins new ones in the new competitive market place post 1998. According to the management gurus Drucker and Levitt, the purpose of every business is to create and keep a customer. It also costs much more to attract a new customer than to keep an established one. The key to success in this competitive market-place will be for Yorkshire Electricity to differentiate from the competition with superior customer service and at the same time provide a product at an acceptable price. To do this, Yorkshire Electricity has put into place its Customer Service Initiative.
Starting at the top
It was recognised immediately that for an organisation as large as Yorkshire Electricity to significantly improve customer service, the whole organisation would have to change and that this degree of change would only happen if the leaders of the organisation led the change and were seen to be supportive of it and the need for it. From the beginning, it was emphasised that this would not be a 'banner waving' exercise and that improving levels of customer service would also improve all aspects of Yorkshire Electricity's operations. The reasons for change and the motivations for improving customer service were discussed at Board level and involved the personal commitment of all the senior executives of Yorkshire Electricity to the programme of change. To include everyone at Yorkshire Electricity in the process of change, the Customer Service Initiative has involved careful preparation and planning through three distinct phases.