Hydro One Responds to Ombudsman's Report

May 25, 2015, 10:05 ET from Hydro One Inc.

TORONTO, May 25, 2015 /CNW/ - Hydro One released the following statement today in response to the Ombudsman of Ontario's report entitled:Investigation into the transparency of Hydro One's billing practices and the timeliness and effectiveness of the process for responding to customer concerns.

"I agree with the Ombudsman's recommendations, so much so, we have completed or taken action on 64 out of 65 of them, before the report was even delivered.

Last year I wrote to my 1.3 million Hydro One customers and I told them I was sorry. I wrote to customers who had a bad experience and the vast majority who had not.

We had a problem with our billing system. And we focused on fixing the technical issues but we failed to appreciate how our actions would affect our customers. We let them down and then we didn't treat them well when they had a problem.

I'm sorry we put our customers through that negative experience and they felt that they had no recourse but to go to the Ombudsman.

Here's what we have done:

  • We have fixed the billing issues
  • I have put a new team in place, from the most senior executive, to the call centre service provider, to the agents on the phone.
  • We have better training and more customer friendly policies so our front line staff have the power to take better care of our customers
  • We have made customer-centred thinking part of every project

By every measure, our customer service operation is much improved. For me this isn't the end of our job or cause for celebration.

We are a company that has a reputation for going out into the worst weather imaginable and not stopping work until every single customer has their lights back on.

My work now is to take this same service-centric approach and drive it into every aspect of our organization.

I'd like to thank the Ombudsman for his report and thank my customers for their patience."

-   Carm Marcello, President and CEO, Hydro One Inc.  

Hydro One's move to a new Customer Information System (CIS) in 2013 represented the final phase of a ten-year, four-phase IT strategy to replace several of Hydro One's key enterprise information systems.  This project represented a major business process transformation initiative to improve Hydro One's efficiency and productivity and ultimately, its customer service offerings.

This complex, large-scale project resulted in customer billing issues for a number of Hydro One customers. Since the implementation, Hydro One has focused considerable resources and energy to correct issues resulting from the transition.

In February of 2014, Hydro One initiated the Customer Service Recovery project, to not only resolve technical problems that resulted from introducing a new billing system, but to also improve service through new customer friendly policies and by changing our customer service culture by:

  • Putting a new customer service team in place and replacing the provider of call centre services.
  • Clearing the backlog of customers who have gone a prolonged period of time without receiving a bill.
  • Decreasing the number of customers who have had prolonged periods of estimated bills. 
  • Changing call-centre training, adding customer service centre agents and introducing flexible customer-centric policies for those affected by billing issues (providing interest-free payment plans, waiving service charges and issuing refunds versus credits).
  • Improving billing and consumption information on the Hydro One website.
  • Hosting Virtual Town Halls with customers to talk about issues that matter to them. Almost 60K customers have participated in these Town Halls.
  • Establishing and implementing new/revised customer service policies, approaches and products.

In the fall of 2014, Hydro One established a Customer Service Advisory Panel (the Panel). The Panel acts as an independent body that ensures Hydro One is living-up to specific measureable customer service commitments.  We have been working with the Panel to finalize a comprehensive set of customer commitments as well as the means by which the Panel will assess and report on our progress against the commitments to ensure Hydro One is accountable to the highest standards.   Over the longer-term, Hydro One will also look to the Panel to advise company leadership with respect to establishing and implementing improved customer service policies, approaches and products. 

A copy of Hydro One's letter to The Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario can be found at www.hydroone.com.

Hydro One delivers electricity safely, reliably and responsibly to homes and businesses across the province of Ontario and owns and operates Ontario's 29,000 km high-voltage transmission network that delivers electricity to large industrial customers and municipal utilities, and a 123,000 km low-voltage distribution system that serves about 1.3 million end-use customers and smaller municipal utilities in the province. Hydro One is wholly owned by the Province of Ontario.

SOURCE Hydro One Inc.



RELATED LINKS

http://www.hydroone.com