The Customer Action Plan 2020-2023 describes how the commitments and standards set out in the Customer Charter will be delivered and evaluated by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). The Government has set out twelve Guiding Principles of Quality Customer Service for public sector organisations and the Action Plan describes the CRU’s services and commitments.

The CRU’s aim is to provide the highest quality of service to all customers. Over the period of the Plan, 2020-2023, the CRU will continue to encourage feedback from customers, evaluate and, where possible, continuously improve on the quality of service offered.

CRU’s Commitment to the Principles of Quality Customer Service

The CRU wishes to provide the best possible service to everyone who contacts us. We do this through the commitments to the Principles of Quality Customer Service outlined in the below sections.

 

1. Quality Service Standards

The CRU is committed to carrying out all its functions in a fair, impartial, balanced and transparent manner. The CRU’s aim is to provide a professional and efficient service to all stakeholders and act with integrity at all times.

The standards of service customers can expect when interacting with us are outlined in our Customer Charter. Both the Charter and Action Plan can be made available in hard copy, upon request.

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
Publish a Customer Service Charter and Customer Action Plan 2020 – 2023. Charter and Action Plan are available on our website and in hard copy upon request.
Ensure all staff are aware and adhere to the commitments made. Feedback received from staff and external customers through consultation in preparing plan.  Customer service training for staff as required and included in inductions for new staff.

2. Equality/Diversity

The CRU is committed to removing barriers for all citizens to access its services and is dedicated to ensuring that no one is discriminated against in their interactions with us.

The CRU will work to ensure the rights of all individuals to avail of our services with particular focus on people experiencing poverty and social exclusion, and for those facing geographic barriers to services.

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
Ensure that there are no barriers to customers accessing our services. Review of customer feedback.
Provide training to staff on equality and diversity matters, as required. Ongoing training on equality and diversity policies including inductions for new staff.

3. Physical Access

CRU is committed to providing appropriate physical access to its offices and to ensuring that all office areas comply with occupational and safety standards. To assist us in ensuring privacy in discussions, where required, we encourage visitors to our office to make an appointment before visiting.

Our staff include a Safety Officer, Fire Wardens and an Access Officer. The Access Officer co-ordinates any assistance that may be needed by those who have a disability.

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
Monitor and maintain the safety and cleanliness of our offices. Offices are maintained to an acceptable standard.
Ensure appropriate meeting facilities are available for customer visits. Customer feedback.
Address health and safety issues at regular health and safety meetings. Number of meetings held and issues addressed efficiently and effectively.
Maintain an appropriate number of trained safety staff. Appropriate number of adequately trained health and safety and fire officers available.

Refresher training provided in line with best practice.

All staff participate in emergency and evacuation drills. Fire drills held quarterly.

Level of adherence of staff with emergency evacuation procedures.

Evacuation report compiled post fire drills and issues addressed efficiently.

Premises is Disability Access Certified. Premises certified.

4. Information

The CRU is committed to continuing to make sure that information contained on our website, issued by post, email, phone, social media or other means is clear and understandable, as appropriate, to the reader/receiver. Information published on our website and online will be designed to meet the prevailing accessibility guidelines.

Using guidance from the National Adult Literacy Association (NALA), we will strive to achieve the Plain English mark on customer facing communications. For technical documents, where appropriate, we will also apply the principles of using jargon free language and include a public impact statement to assist in explanation of complex subjects.

When answering queries, we will give accurate information in a timely fashion, using clear and simple language. Every effort will be made to communicate with people in a way that is suitable to their needs.

In addition to the complaints resolution service, our Customer Care Team and our agents, ARISE, provide information to customers on general consumer rights and other information relating to the activities of the CRU. Information on this service is detailed in the Customer Care Customer Charter .

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
Use Plain English written communications, keeping the use of technical or official terms and jargon to a minimum and where necessary explaining these terms. Plain English mark on key customer facing content.
Ensure all website contact methods are in working order. Regular functionality and accessibility checks.
Provide a clear responsible social media use policy to set out standards of communication with stakeholders Social media policy published on CRU website and reviews on an annual basis
Make staff information and updates on matters of interest available via the Intranet and internal newsletter where practicable. Staff feedback regarding availability and ease of access to information.

5. Timeliness and Courtesy

The staff of CRU undertake to be prompt, helpful, patient and courteous in all dealings with the public whether in written, telephone or face to face contact in its offices, at meetings or any other events.

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
Answer the telephone promptly and identify ourselves when doing so. Customer feedback.
Ensure that when staff are out of the office, appropriate voicemail and out of office email messages are active. Audit of absence messages by staff.
Ensure that all staff provide their contact details in any correspondence to allow for easy follow up. Audit of correspondence.
Ensure written correspondence is acknowledged within five working days. Audit of correspondence.
Provide a response to correspondence within 15 working days. When this is not feasible due to the need for significant investigation, research or resources we will provide an update within 15 working days which will outline the expected time frame for the response. Audit of correspondence.
Answer or appropriately direct queries received through social media within 48 hours during the working week, where practicable. Audit of correspondence.

6. Complaints

The CRU is committed to dealing with issues of customer dissatisfaction with quality of service in an objective, consistent, open and fair manner. You have a right to complain if the standard of service we provide is not up to the standard set out in this Charter. Complaints will be addressed as quickly as possible and complainants will be kept informed of progress.

If you have a customer service complaint, customers are requested to follow the CRU complaint procedure which is outlined in this document.

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
Ensure all complaints are addressed promptly, fairly and in a consistent manner. Audit of complaint records.
Ensure staff are aware of the complaints procedure and that all matters are efficiently resolved. Audit of complaint records.

The CRU also operates a complaint resolution service for unresolved complaints by customers about their energy suppliers or network providers in energy or water.  Any questions about this service or about your energy or water supplier should be sent to the Customer Care Team at customercare@cru.ie

7. Appeals

As part of our complaints procedure, we will offer an appeal/review for customers who are dissatisfied with decisions in relation to complaints about services provided by the CRU.

If the matter remains unresolved after all review procedures have been fully exhausted under the CRU’s complaints procedure, the customer will be advised of their right to appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman.

8. Consultation and Evaluation

Consultation and feedback are important to help us to understand customer and stakeholder expectations, requirements and any deficiencies in the services we provide. Our Customer Charter includes mechanisms for providing feedback on our service delivery on an ad-hoc basis.

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
Encourage and enable customers to provide feedback on service quality. Customer feedback via consultation in preparation/review of Customer Action Plan.
Consult staff in the preparation of the Customer Action Plan. Staff consultation to gather feedback and suggestions.

9. Official Languages Equality

The CRU recognises customers rights to avail of our services through Irish. Customers have the ability to interact with us through Irish if they so wish.

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
The CRU will publish a Scheme under the Official Languages Act 2003 which will detail the services the CRU will provide through Irish, English, and through both Irish and English. Up to date Scheme published and commitments implemented in line with timeframes in the Scheme.

10. Internal Customer

The CRU is committed to ensuring that staff members are also recognised as customers. We are committed to supporting our staff to enable the provision of an excellent service both internally and externally.

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
Provide staff access to information sources to assist them in their role and encourage knowledge sharing across the organisation. Staff feedback.
Encourage open communication and consultation with all staff.  Use Communications Forum as a consultative forum with staff. Evidence of acting upon staff feedback, when appropriate. Number of meetings of Forum.
Ensure all policies are underpinned by the CRU’s values. Staff feedback.

11. Choice

The CRU makes every effort to provide multiple ways for our customers to access our services, find information about us and to contact us.

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
Provide a range of service delivery/contact channels, i.e. website, letter, email, online forms, social media and phone. Customer feedback.
Consider how technology can improve range and quality of services provided to customers (ICT Strategy 2020-2022). Enable new services to customers (e.g. online consultations, licensing).

12. Better Coordination

The CRU works in partnership with a range of organisations in Ireland and internationally including consumer groups (customer stakeholder group), business groups, sector regulators, government departments and other European energy regulators.

COMMITMENT PERFORMANCE INDICATOR
Engage with independent consumer representative bodies to provide an effective platform for policy development and voice to vulnerable customers Facilitation and management of a Consumer Stakeholder Group
Enter into formal agreements with other bodies to facilitate co-operation, information-sharing, effective investigation of consumer protection and Climate Action. Memoranda of Understanding in place with key state bodies e.g Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Competition & Consumer Protection Commission, An Bord Pleanála,
Participate with Public Sector Networks where possible. Attendance and sharing knowledge at cross body meetings e.g. ERN, Government Communications Network.

Monitoring & Reporting

The CRU will monitor performance against the standards outlined to make sure we are achieving them and take action if we are not.

We will push for continuous improvement to ensure we provide the best service that we can.

In the final year of this Plan, we will develop a Customer Service Survey to assess our performance, internally and externally. The exact type and number of customers it will be sent to will be determined upon consultation with appropriate staff members. After collecting and analysing the results of the survey, we will draft a new Action Plan which will focus on the areas for improvement highlighted in the results.

Our Annual Report will have a dedicated Customer Service section, where we will report our progress against the set standards.

CRU Complaints Procedure

In fulfilling its statutory duties and functions, the CRU recognises the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with utility customers and users, members of the public, regulated entities and other third-party stakeholders.

The CRU acknowledges that circumstances can arise where a person or an organisation may wish to make a complaint about their interactions with the CRU or organisations acting on its behalf. This document sets out the CRU’s procedure for managing such complaints.

What issues are covered by the complaints procedure?

This procedure covers complaints that relate directly to the quality of service we (the CRU and its agents, ARISE) provide, for example:

  • complaints about delays, mistakes, lack of available information, poor quality of information, lack of courtesy;
  • instances where you did not receive the quality of service from the CRU you feel you are entitled to;
  • complaints under Section 39 of the Disability Act 2005 relating to access to our services, buildings or information; and
  • complaints about discrimination under the Equal Status Acts 1998 and 2004.

What issues are not covered by the complaints procedure?

The procedure does not cover complaints about:

  • activities where there are statutory mechanisms to deal with complaints such as our complaints resolution service (i.e. complaints about gas and electricity suppliers or Irish Water); and
  • Freedom of Information (FOI)/Access to Information on the Environment requests.

 

Step 1: Making a formal complaint

You can make a complaint by emailing or writing to us at:

QCSOfficer@cru.ie, or

Quality Customer Service Officer

The Grain House

The Exchange

Belgard Square North

Tallaght

Dublin 24, D24 PXW0

Ireland

All complaints to the CRU must be made in writing. If you require some assistance in order to comply with this requirement, please inform a CRU staff member.

What you should include in your complaint

Remember to ensure that your complaint contains the following information:

  • Your name and contact information, and whether you are acting on behalf of someone else;
  • A brief description of how your complaint arose, including relevant dates and times, where applicable;
  • A list of the specific concerns you wish the CRU to address; and
  • Your preferred method of communication (email, post etc) and whether there are any particular requirements you may have in processing your complaint that the CRU should be aware of.

This information will assist us in processing your complaint. You may also provide additional or supporting information and copies of relevant documents together with your complaint, where necessary and appropriate.

If you are making a complaint on behalf of somebody else, the CRU will need evidence of your authority to act on their behalf.

Where a complaint is received in relation to an energy or water supplier, it will be referred to the Customer Care Team for decision. Complaints about suppliers and resulting decisions are final and are not subject to appeal. However, complaints about how such complaints were handled by the CRU, are within the scope of this procedure.

Step 2: Processing your complaint

A. Initial assessment

Once your complaint is received, it will be formally acknowledged by the Complaints Officer within 5 working days.

Once your complaint has been acknowledged, the Complaints Officer will undertake a preliminary assessment of the matter to:

  • assess whether the complaint is one which falls within the scope of this procedure;
  • evaluate the complexity or the nature of the issues;
  • determine whether additional information is required from you; and
  • consider whether further investigation is required.

Once this assessment has been completed, the Complaints Officer will determine what further action is required, if any. If no further action is required, an explanation of the reasons for this decision will be sent to the complainant. If further action is required, the Complaints Officer will then proceed to seek an informal resolution or initiate a formal investigation of the complaint.

The Complaints Officer will seek to conclude the initial assessment within four weeks of the initial receipt of the complaint. Where this is not possible, the Complaints Officer will inform the complainant accordingly.

B. Informal resolution

Where the Complaints Officer deems it appropriate, an informal resolution of the complaint may be attempted through correspondence or by arranging a meeting between the parties. Complaints relating to more minor administrative matters may be dealt with informally by the Complaints Officer without the need for further input from the complainant.

If an informal resolution is unsuccessful, the Complaints Officer may then initiate a formal investigation of the complaint.

C. Investigation

The Complaints Officer may decide that a formal investigation is appropriate on the conclusion of the initial assessment or where an informal resolution has not been possible.  The CRU will then assign someone other than the Complaints Officer to formally investigate your complaint and will write to inform you of this step. Wherever possible, this investigator will be someone that has not had any previous involvement with the subject matter of the complaint.

At the outset of this investigation, the investigator may write to you, setting out their understanding of your complaint, asking for you to confirm whether you believe their understanding to be correct, and, where necessary, seeking any further information from you that they think they may require.

The investigator may also contact any member of staff who is the subject of your complaint and, where appropriate, the staff member’s manager, to discuss the matter.

The objective of the investigator is to establish the facts regarding your complaint. The extent of this investigation will depend on the complexity and seriousness of the issues you have raised.

The CRU will aim to complete all formal investigations as quickly as possible and within 30 working days. In some exceptional cases a formal investigation may take longer to complete. If this happens the CRU will write to you within this 30 day period to let you know the reasons for this delay and the date by which a decision is expected.

Once the investigator has completed their investigation, they will complete their investigation report. The investigation report will contain all the relevant details regarding your complaint that they have gathered during the investigation.

D. Decision

Once completed, the investigation report will be provided to a member of the CRU management team with responsibility for the department to which your complaint relates (the Decision Maker). The Decision Maker will then review the investigation report and decide on how best to proceed with resolving your complaint.

If the Decision Maker upholds your complaint in whole or in part, they will write to you to explain the circumstances and to provide details on what the steps the CRU plans to take to prevent the issue from occurring in future.

If your complaint has not been upheld, the Decision Maker will write to you to inform you of this and the reasons why.

Process Timeline:

The CRU takes all complaints seriously and aspire to learn from any mistakes we have made. The CRU’s senior management team considers a summary of all complaints on a regular basis, as well as details of any serious complaints.

Where there is a need for change, the CRU will develop an action plan setting out what it will do, who will do it and when it will be completed. Where appropriate, the CRU will let you know when changes related to issues raised in your complaint have been made.

Right of Appeal

Where you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint, you can appeal this. The request for an appeal should be made to the Complaints Office within 10 working days of your receipt of any formal or informal decision.

Once received, your appeal will be referred to a member of staff that is more senior than the initial Decision Maker (the Appeal Officer). The Appeal Officer will carry out an initial assessment of the materials related to your complaint to determine whether a full review is merited, taking account of any additional information provided in the appeal.

Where the Appeal Officer determines that further investigation is not merited, they will inform you of their decision and the reasoning behind it.

Where the Appeal Officer determines that a further investigation is merited, they will conduct a full review of the file relating to your complaint, including any investigation report produced. The Appeal Officer will inform you of their decision within 20 working days of the CRU’s receipt of your appeal. The Appeal Officer’s decision will be final and no further appeal will be available.

What to do if you need help with the complaint process

If you need extra assistance with any stage of the complaint process, please let a CRU complaints officer and they will seek to assist you in any way they can.

What we expect from you

The CRU believes that all complainants have the right to be heard, understood and respected. However, the CRU also believes that its staff have the same rights and expects complainants to be polite and courteous in their dealings with the CRU.

Where complainants engage in aggressive or abusive behaviour, or make unreasonable or unreasonably persistent demands, the CRU reserves its right to discontinue its engagement and to end the processing of any related complaints.