April marks the start of Stress Awareness Month 2022 and it’s a great opportunity to take a moment to think about our wellbeing and managing stress, both at home and in the workplace.
At UGP we want to help our people and other stakeholders manage their worries, stresses and pressures so we’ve developed a few top tips that we think will help:
Share how you’re feeling. It can make a huge difference sharing how you’re feeling with friends and colleagues. By sharing you could get some great advice or find you can support other colleagues who need help.
Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness can come in all forms, whether that be taking a walk, breathing techniques, or being aware of your surroundings. Taking time to be mindful is one of the first steps to reducing your own stress.
Keep Moving. Yoga, walking, or heading to the gym are all great ways to keep active. Keeping active provides great stress-busting benefits.
Get a good night’s sleep. Waking up completely recharged and ready to go will set your day up with a positive mindset.
Keep a Balanced Diet – Food is our energy source and provides us with the nutrients we need to grow, ensuring we don’t skip a meal, stay hydrated and eat our 5-a-day will decrease our stress levels.
Take a break. Trying to do or take on too much can increase the negative impacts stress has on our mind and bodies. Taking a break and a step back will help us to manage our time better, with less stressors.
Having recently started a new role in HR at United Gas & Power, I understand that I play a vital role in terms of our employees’ health and wellbeing. We acknowledge different workplace stressors; we recognise the signs and we understand that as a business, we need to put measures in place for our people so that as an organisation, we do all we can to reduce the damaging effects of stress. At UGP these measures come in the form of;
Gym Memberships – We know how a little bit of movement can be a great way of releasing some built-up stress that people have. Exercise is excellent for our well-being and thanks to UGP our people can visit the gym on a lunchtime, with extended lunch hours to enable them to get there and back still have time for a sandwich!
Supportive Line Managers – It’s important to let people know when you’re feeling stressed, so that we can ensure as an organisation we’re supporting you. Having approachable line managers who care is the only way people would feel comfortable doing so. That’s why our Line Managers meet frequently to communicate new ideas, approaches, and different ways of thinking. Sharing ideas and different techniques to management empowers our line managers to be reassuring, encouraging, and understanding with any issue their teams may have.
Flexible Working Policy – We understand how some stressors can be due to balancing work and home commitments, so having a Flexible Working Policy in place, which is accessible to every employee and gives everyone an opportunity to request a working change, allows our people to comfortably manage both.
Company Socials – At UGP we notice how taking a break from work and catching up with colleagues is the often the best way to relax. That’s why team socials, company summer BBQs and afternoons away from the office are a way for UGP not only to say thank you to employees but also ensure they’re taking the breaks they need.
Internal Communications – Staying up to date with projects, industry updates and organisational changes is imperative (especially when working from home) when it comes to reducing stress in the workplace. Knowing what’s happening and being informed allows our people not to worry and to be excited about the future. Therefore, all our communications come directly from the Senior Management Team, nothing is diluted in passing on the message and we all hear the same updates at the same time on a regular basis.
Cashback Health Scheme – Acknowledging that most of UGP’s employees’ stressors won’t come from work but seeing that we can still help is one of the most important things an employer can recognise. Our partnership with Simply Health allows our people access to 24-hour advice and counselling helplines, where they can receive guidance from professionals on financial, legal, medical and relationship matters along with 6 free counselling sessions, access to GPs and much more. The cashback scheme ensures this comes at no cost to UGP employees when accessing and claiming these things for themselves.
This month’s Stress Awareness theme is Community where Stress.org.uk have chosen the theme because “the pandemic has had a hugely detrimental effect on the nation’s mental health and sense of community.” After the turbulent couple of years our industry has felt, community support and spirit has never been so important, so we wanted to offer some messages to our energy community.
To all the suppliers, shippers, and brokers who have felt the same pressures over the past couple of years, who are uncertain on what advice to offer or who are in need of a little break we’re here to support you, and together we can make sure we help one another through another year.
To our customers, we know how challenging a time it may be right now. The news you see about the energy industry can be unsettling and all the changes to prices can be confusing but we’re here to help and we want to offer guidance and advice. Just give our 5-star customer service team and Account Managers a call, who want to put your needs first and give you the knowledge you need during this time. See how we can support you and what we have to offer!
To our employees, for UGP the rest of Stress Awareness Month is for reflecting, improving on what we already have and continuing to put you at the front of everything we do. Stepping into the HR role marks the perfect opportunity for me to review how we currently approach stress in the workplace, and I look forward to researching what we can offer and listening to what you want.
In listening to our community, adapting to people’s needs, and continuing to change for the better we can ensure we have a positive impact on our people, customers, and community.
Ensuring that your customers have a great experience is important to any business, as it’s the key to attracting and retaining customers. In the energy sector, it’s never been more critical. Here at UGP our Customer Service Team put customers at the heart of what we do to ensure that we not only leave our customers satisfied, we also ensure that we make the right decisions, for the long term.
As Customer Service Manager, the success of my team is built according to these top 5 customer services values:
Put the customer at the heart of every conversation: Our customers deserve the human touch. Be open, be honest and really understand what the customer wants before then discussing the most appropriate action. Be sincere and be human! By truly listening to the query, no matter how big or small, solutions can be always found. It’s important to remember that customers are contacting us to help us, or for us to help them. Customer Service is an attitude not just a department!
Be aware of the news! There’s a lot happening worldwide that is affecting everyone. It is important that sensitivity is shown. That the challenges people are facing are acknowledged and that solutions are found to suit all. Being aware of news both worldwide and locally leaves customers feeling understood. It’s likely that what has affected us as individuals has also affected our customers. By empathising and understanding, the customer will feel valued.
Ownership: There is nothing worse than being passed from pillar to post and having to repeat queries over and over to different call handlers. By taking ownership, customer trust is increased significantly. In particular, if our customer has a complaint, it’s important to own it, deal with the issue from start to finish and reassure the customer that things are getting sorted. Give points of contact, how to get in touch and offer a truly exceptional ownership experience for all customers.
Honesty: If a task is going to take a number of days, we let our customers know. Don’t over promise just to give the customer what they want to hear as it will cause you problems later down the line. Keeping promises is crucial. One of my big frustrations as a customer is if something is wrong, being told that the issue will be sorted quicker than it will be in reality. This only increases my frustration.
Embrace complaints: Things do wrong from time to time. It is important to acknowledge this, hold your hands up to any mistakes and tell the truth. Blaming a system or trying to get around issues by not acknowledging what the issue is will only lead to customers becoming more frustrated. If something has gone wrong, admit the error, speak to customers explaining why, and what is going to happen to fix it. Our customers will not always like the reason why things have gone wrong, but make every effort to fix the issue in a timely manner and the trust will grow.
When talking to customers in a B2B environment, it’s our customers business, income and livelihoods they are talking to us about. Challenges will be faced and our aim is to make contacting UGP the easiest and most pleasurable experience that it can be. Feedback on how we are doing is welcomed, whether good or bad. The personal touch makes a huge difference in customer service ratings, and I pride myself and my team on this. Our team has superb success rates; over 98% of queries resolved satisfactorily and on time. Our complaint resolution times are industry leading and I take great pride in how low our repeat complaints are.
Working for a company that embraces my own personal values makes my job enjoyable and rewarding on a daily basis.
I was never much of an “eco ambassador” – to me the challenges of climate change and environmental sustainability lay firmly at the foot of our world leaders and government bodies. Sure, I did my bit, half-heartedly recycling when it was convenient for me, but I never really thought it was something I could do anything about. Saving the planet was someone else’s problem not mine – let’s leave it to the green party and “eco campaigners” was my distorted attitude – they know more than me. How wrong I was and how little I understood.
In 2011 I had my first child and my perspective changed entirely. Suddenly, the future of our planet wasn’t just about me – it became about my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and I began to think about the issues a little deeper. I became acutely aware of the result that the actions I take today will directly and unequivocally impact the future for my family.
The news this week is awash with COP26 pledges and commitments; and of course it should be. Part way through the summit, I’m delighted to see that some progress seems to be afoot.
More than 100 world leaders have promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. The countries who have signed the pledge – including Canada, Brazil, Russia, China, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the US and the UK (the full list is here) – cover around 85% of the world’s forests.
The US and the EU have announced a global partnership to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas methane by 2030. The Global Methane Pledge aims to limit methane emissions by 30% compared with 2020 levels. It is one of the most potent greenhouse gases and responsible for a third of current warming from human activities.
South Africa is set to receive $8.5bn (£6.2bn) to help end its reliance on coal in a deal announced at the COP26 climate summit. The country is currently a major emitter of greenhouse gases as a result of its addiction to coal, which it uses to generate electricity.
This deal, funded by wealthier nations, could have both global and local implications.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has said his Bezos Earth Fund will spend $2bn (£1.5bn) restoring landscapes and transforming food systems. Entrepreneurs including Mr Bezos have been criticised for spending money on trips into space instead of solving problems on Earth. The Bezos Earth Fund plans to spend $10bn fighting climate change overall.
But in witnessing the COP26 highlights so far, what’s painfully clear to me is that, despite what eventually results at the end of this week, without the effort of every person and business inhabiting the earth, right now, we won’t be able to make a meaningful impact to the very real threat that faces our existence for future generations.
I joined United Gas & Power, a UK commercial energy supplier in 2019, in a marketing role – not to save the planet, but to support and provide for my family as a single mum. Little did I know that in that same year I’d be a part of a scheme that resulted in the business making a full commitment to renewable power for all its customers. I’ve had many highlights in my 25-year career, but this was undoubtedly one of the most memorable.
As the Head of Marketing for UGP I wanted to write something meaningful this week about how we can all affect change in the light of COP26 – but my words will always fall short because without tangible action, I’m just another voice in a sea of voices that know far more than I. So, Instead I thought I’d highlight the efforts of a new, up and coming UK business that has taken it upon themselves to lead the way.
Dukeries Retreat is a business that was born in the chaos of the covid lock down. A hospitality business offering luxury UK glamping, that decided to challenge convention in one of the worst market conditions the industry has ever faced. Their commitment to sustainability is exemplary and at UGP we’re proud to be a part of their story.
Check out their case study here – I hope it will inspire other businesses to follow suit and seek out a sustainable way of working, so that our future generations can continue to enjoy our beautiful planet.
In 2019 United Gas & Power (UGP) partnered with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) on their together for trees campaign. This means United Gas & Power now funds the planting of a new tree in the Yorkshire Dales for every new customer as a way to help offset the environmental impact of each new energy contract. This campaign is part of the belief that energy needs to be renewable for future generations and after the latest donation for Q3 2021, UGP are proud to have now reached over 1,500 trees, offsetting 255 tonnes of carbon!
The Woodland Trust estimates that the UK needs to plant 1.5 billion trees by 2050 to reach net zero emissions and UGP believe that UK Plc should also play its part in the tree-planting movement.
Part of the partnership means members of the UGP team going out and lending a hand with YDMT. Recently a team was out and about in Grassington working hard on maintenance work to ensure the trees were growing well. The team worked on the Bargh Wood site, which is around half a mile from Stainforth on the Ribble Way with sensational panoramic views of Pendle Hill, Pen-y-Ghent and Winskill as well as Langcliffe and Settle. The aim of the day was to ensure the tree posts were firmly rooted, the guards for the saplings were intact and any weeds were pulled out to ensure the tree was not overshadowed for sunlight and water.
Now more than ever it is imperative that we look at more sustainable, renewable solutions and that’s exactly what UGP are striving to achieve. Not only does 100% of the power supplied by UGP is powered from renewable sources, but they are also offering more services. The last few years have witnessed a huge surge in the demand for Electric Vehicles in the UK and sources predict that by 2030, 60% of all new vehicles sold will be ‘plug-in’ models. UGP is proud to be able to offer EV charging.
To help businesses understand their impact on the environment UGP invites you to complete their new carbon calculator on their new re-vamped website. One of the most significant changes you can make as a business to reduce your carbon footprint is to switch to 100% renewable power. Use this carbon calculator to see the Co2 emissions impact you could have by switching.
For a quick no obligation quote for renewable energy for your business, click here.
Reviews are paramount to a business success, the majority of potential customers will heavily research into a product, service and business before committing to a purchase. Therefore, having lots of reviews will help make you stand out from the crowd. United Gas & Power prides itself on being rated five stars on Trust Pilot. Here are our top tips to not only get more reviews but get the right ones too.
1) Identify the best time to ask
This will be when the purchase or service has been received, this could mean having to wait weeks even months, but it is best to wait. If you request a review after the purchase stage the customer will either fill in a very basic, un-detailed review which is no help to anyone or wait until the item or service has been received and if it has been poor, they probably won’t give you the opportunity to resolve and just leave a negative review. We advise to wait a week after the product has been received or the service has been completed. Also don’t just request the review, first ask how they found the experience etc then you can resolve any issues and the review should (hopefully) be based on the overall experience not just one potentially negative element.
2) Choose one platform
There are many methods of reviews; Google My Business, Trust Pilot, Which?, TripAdvisor etc. It is recommended to stick to one so that you can drive all your customers to it.
It is important to remember that not everyone will bother to take the time out to give you a review – very few people do. So, in order to ensure you capture as many as possible stick to one platform. Additionally, your type of business is probably more suited to one over the other, for example trade businesses do really well on Which? Whilst TripAdvisor suits eateries and hotels.
3) Embrace the negativity
A negative review is an opportunity to demonstrate how your business resolves issues and communicates with it’s customers. If a business has 100% positive reviews that will flag suspicion with a lot of people because like people no business is perfect. However, you will be judged on how you respond to negative reviews. It’s simple, never ignore a negative review, never delete them, and always respond in a calm and professional manner offering a suitable resolution remembering not to disclose any sensitive or personal information.
4) Incentivise (if needed)
If you are really struggling to get reviews and especially if you are a new business starting out (as you will really need to get the reviews in to prove you are a legitimate business) then you may need to consider incentivising. Decide on an attractive yet feasible incentive, one that won’t break your bank but that will get people putting the effort in to review.
5) Make the most of good reviews
Whenever you get a good review – really make the most of it. Share it on your social channels and if you can’t share a screenshot of the review and post it on your profile. You can also copy and paste the content of the review and use it in email marketing or a newsletter linking back to the original source so the recipient can check it is a real review.
UGP is a 5 Star rated “excellent” commercial energy supplier, offering great value renewable power to businesses across the UK. Customer experience lies at the heart of our business and we take great pride in our reputation. If you’d like to switch to a company that delivers an unrivalled level of customer care, as well as low cost renewable business energy, complete our quick form here and we’ll get back to you immediately!
A team from United Gas & Power spent the day working with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) on their “together for trees” campaign yesterday. United Gas & Power funds the planting of a new tree in the Yorkshire Dales for every new electricity customer as a way to help offset the environmental impact of each new energy contract. Yesterday the team was out and about in Grassington working hard on maintenance work to ensure the trees were growing well.
So far to date UGP has funded the planting of over 1190 trees in the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding areas offsetting an estimated 199 tonnes of carbon. By the end of last year YDMT had managed to plant 27,508 trees, creating 19.73 hectares of new woodland.
After a half mile hike up to the site, armed with gardening gloves and a hammer the team were ready to work. UGP was joined by Leah and Lesley from YDMT who provided great knowledge about the site and work needed to be completed.
The team worked on the Bargh Wood site, which is around half a mile from Stainforth on the Ribble Way with sensational panoramic views of Pendle Hill, Pen-y-Ghent and Winskill as well as Langcliffe and Settle. The aim of the day was to ensure the tree posts were firmly rooted, the guards for the saplings were intact and any weeds were pulled out to ensure the tree was not overshadowed for sunlight and water.
The site is a native broadleaf woodland that has been planted to create a vital habitat for wildlife. 4,800 trees have been planted including Sessile Oak, Rowan, Holly, Downy Birch, Alder, Scots Pine, Quick Thorn and Willow – all ideal species for the exposed site. A wide variety of tree species is planted in order to see which grow best in these terrains, YDMT also over plant by around 20% to ensure the woodland has the best chance as not all trees manage to root and grow.
The woodland is also part of YDMT’s Plastic Free Woodlands project, supported by the European Outdoor Conservation Association, and 100 of the trees will be planted in March 2021 with alternative tree guards. Currently the tree guards are plastic but YDMT are working on a campaign to reduce the use of plastic and are experimenting with different biodegradable materials or simply not using a guard at all. However, the guards themselves are always re-used unless very severely damaged.
Joanna Czternastek, UGP’s Head of Marketing said “We’re incredibly proud of our association with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust. Businesses have a significant role to play in the path to future net zero and as an energy company we’re in the privileged position of being able to support our customers by supplying only renewable power as well as support the YDMT with the planting of a tree in recognition of each new customer”.
United Gas & Power is a Yorkshire based commercial direct energy supplier, providing UK businesses with gas and renewable electricity. Founded in 2013, the company was recognised as one of the fastest growing UK businesses in 2019 by the Sunday Times Fast Track awards.
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. This year we are marking the day by profiling some of the wonderful women who work for UGP.
The energy sector is widely regarded as one of the least gender diverse areas of the economy. A recent report by the professional initiative POWERful Women and consulting giant PwC studied the board member composition of 80 companies in the UK energy space. It found that 38% of the UK’s top energy companies had no women members on their boards. Also, more than two-thirds of the firms lacked a single woman-occupied executive seat.
United Gas and Power are determined to lead the way and ensure we have stronger representation of women in the workforce. Additionally, however, UGP is not merely employing more women to tip this numerical target but rather creating a workplace that empowers and encourages the employment, development and progression of everyone irrespective of gender.
“The energy industry used to be very male dominated, but that has really changed now. When I started at UGP I was the only woman in the sales team, our team is now almost a 50/50 split. The results of the team are evenly split as well, showing your gender has literally no affect on your performance to do well in energy.
We have a number of strong women working in every side of our business from the bottom to the top, so much so, gender is never even a topic of conversation – equality goes without saying here.
As a woman, I have worked in a number of male dominated sectors and found success. When hiring other females, many would find that daunting though and re-consider taking a job in that bullish environment. I have found though, all it takes is a few bold ladies and there is no barrier to others joining and becoming a truly versatile and comfortable environment.
I love working in energy. So many of our competitors are heavily male dominated. I think what sets us apart is our customer service and rapport building, patient account management and solution focus. A real step away from the brash experiences many companies experience from brokers and supplies with macho sales teams.”
Kimberley Whitaker, Business Improvement Manager
“I am a mum to three boys ranging from the age of almost 2 to almost 17! I live with my partner Ben in Baildon. I hadn’t had experience of working in the energy industry until I started work for UGP in May 2015.
I have had various roles at UGP, ranging from Credit Controller to Billing Manager, Office Manager, Customer Service Manager, and now I am the Business Improvement Manager. Pretty much all areas of the business (except Sales!)
I really enjoy working in this industry as no two days are the same! I have seen UGP’s growth over the years and I am very proud to say I have been here (almost) from the beginning 😊 “.
Chloe Hollins, Sales Support
“On International Women’s Day and as a female in a notoriously male dominated industry, it’s important for me to feel like I’ve been given the tools, skills and support I need to progress in my career. My time at UGP has shown just that and I have been able to develop in my role in Sales within the Major Accounts team. Going above and beyond for our customers is something we pride ourselves on and for me to feel confident to make decisions that will be supported, knowing my opinions are respected, listened to and used on key projects and to know my voice matters ensures I can do just that.
Whilst relatively new to UGP I have worked in the energy industry for 7 years and even in this short time I’ve seen a lot of changes to the industry as a whole. The energy sector has always been a male dominated industry, with board members, directors and managers not being a reflection of the company they work in. Whilst I believe there is still work to be done on the industry as a whole, I’m happy to work for a company that is continuously evolving, with an SLT made up of over 50% women, it shows that change is happening.
To continue to change, evolve and educate as individuals, businesses and communities we’ll make positive impacts on the people around us and the planet we live on. On that note Happy International Women’s day to all the wonderful women and people in my life that help me be better and do better every day!”
UGP has more people identifying as male than female, with 35% identifying as female. While we’ve a little way to go to reach the 45% national average for female representation, in a typically male dominated sector, we are steadily closing the gap (figures correct as at October 2020). Importantly, across UGP’s managerial team, women represent 43% of all employees.
Even more significantly, United Gas & Powers Senior Management team is a trail blazing 50/50 male/female split! You can see more on our diversity report in the below video –
The energy sector still has a long way to go but UGP is excited to be leading the way in a more diverse workforce and helping to shape this new landscape.
We’re hiring! Interested in joining the UGP family? Check out our current vacancies here.
Many businesses rely on online reviews to build their reputation and offer assurance to potential customers. With a whopping 91% of customers reading online reviews before purchasing a product or service, online reputation management is something no business should underestimate the value of. In this blog, we explore ways in which businesses can take their online reviews from good to great.
As a commercial gas and electricity supplier working in a highly saturated and competitive energy market, we understand the importance of looking after our customers in order to develop relationships with them that lead to loyalty and trust. We’re proud to have a 5* Excellent Trust Pilot rating, and a plethora of repeat customers that underpin our growth and stability in what can be a capricious market, highly influenced by a “switch and save” mentality.
You probably incorporate an element of this already with a follow-up email about an order or service. However, you should also look to follow up a few weeks or even months after a sale to check in and ensure that no issues have arisen. This may also be the perfect opportunity to ask for feedback as the customer is reminded about your business and could simply click through to a review platform.
If your business is an e-commerce site, you may feel that one order confirmation is enough, but in fact a sequence of emails such as “order dispatched” and “order due for delivery” will markedly improve the customer experience. Similarly, if you provide a service that requires booking, it’s great practice to send a booking confirmation and then reminders of the booking up until the day it takes place.
Don’t Be Afraid to Apologise
Apologising can be a tricky avenue to manoeuvre, some businesses are dead against it as they feel it means they are admitting fault which could lead to further action. However, for something as small as a delay in delivery that is certainly not the customers fault, an apology is probably warranted. In this scenario you’re keeping the customer informed as well as maintaining good communication. By addressing the issue head-on you’ll also minimise the chances of later fallout.
Compensate – When Applicable
If a customer’s order is a day late because of weather conditions or other mitigating circumstances, you may choose to compensate them in some way – perhaps by offering a discount on their next order. If an order has been delivered damaged, it’s important to resolve the issue promptly and compensate the customer accordingly. Compensation doesn’t necessarily have to be a refund, you could be creative and choose to send a gift, offer a voucher or even free delivery for a month.
Customers love surprises – the pleasant ones that is! If a customer has agreed that they are happy to be contacted with regards to offers, promotions, discounts, updates etc (check your GDPR regulations) then surprising them randomly with a discount or exclusive offers is a sure-fire way to please them! If a customer has ordered multiple times or spent a large amount of money with your business, it’s a great idea to reward their custom and it’s the best way to stimulate repeat business.
Engaging with Customers
The benefits of having some form of social media presence for your business are evident; you’ll reach a larger number of potential customers; you have an easy form of communicating with your customers and you can create a real engagement. It is important to remember that you should only create a social media account that you know you can devote time and energy to. There’s little point creating a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn if you can’t manage them appropriately, so choose wisely.
You should endeavour to post regularly; at least every other day, respond to comments and queries and avoid only posting sales themed posts – mix the content up. Try hosting online competitions – this is particularly great for businesses that can’t offer discounts – and it helps drive brand awareness if you’re asking entrants to like and share your social content.
Reduce Response Time
Having a process in place for responding to customers is good but having a process that responds within 24 hours for example is what will make you great. 66% of people believe that valuing their time is the most important element of the customer journey. Resolving customer queries as quickly as possible is a cornerstone of good customer service. Speed should be of the essence — especially for smaller issues that don’t take much time to solve. However, don’t sacrifice a good quality resolution for the sake of a speedy response. Customers understand that more complex queries take time to resolve. There’s a difference between the time it takes you to respond and the speed at which you resolve their problems. Get back to your customers as quickly as possible, but don’t be in a rush to get them off the phone or close the ticket without resolving the issue completely.
UGP is a 5 Star rated “excellent” commercial energy supplier, offering great value renewable power to businesses across the UK. Customer experience lies at the heart of our business and we take great pride in our reputation.
If you’d like to switch to a company that delivers an unrivalled level of customer care, complete our quick form here and we’ll get back to you immediately!
United Gas and Power recently completed a diversity and inclusion survey and found that 53% of our employees had not worked in the energy sector prior to joining us. It got us thinking about whether the best choice of candidate may not always be the obvious and if Industry experience really is a critical success factor, or whether softer skills, such as cultural fit, ultimately determine long-term performance and help to build a rich, diverse workplace.
While we are by no means saying that hiring people with Industry experience would not be beneficial, we believe it’s also important to look beyond basic hard skills and experience, considering people with a breadth of experience to enhance your organisation. Here’s five reasons why you should consider hiring people from outside of your industry:
“Industry fatigue” is a well-known concept that can limit fresh ideas and innovative thought. People with extensive industry experience are often seen as hires that can “hit the ground running” however this comes at a cost.
They may be limited by their restricted view of your industry and have pre-conceived ideas of what is and isn’t possible in your particular sector. Hiring people with broader sector experience may bring an innovative approach and ideas that can ultimately help you to step outside of industry conventions, challenge the norm and help your organisation to grow.
2) Soft skills versus hard skills
Soft skills, such as communication skills, organisational skills or problem-solving skills do not apply to one specific sector. It’s easy to get blinded by industry experience and overlook some of the core competencies or softer skills needed to succeed in the role or organisation.
By recruiting outside of your industry, and broadening your pool of talent, you’re far more likely to find people who tick all of the competency boxes. It may take someone a little longer to get up to speed with industry knowledge, but in a lot of cases this can be easily achieved and you’ll find that someone from outside of the sector will be keen to learn. It’s far harder to teach someone effective communication skills or teamwork when they simply do not possess those qualities.
3) Limit your costs
If you are continually looking to your competitors for people with industry experience to recruit from, the chances are that you’ll have to offer higher wages to motivate them to leave their current employment. Over time, salaries will continue to climb and your payroll costs escalate. By hiring from another industry, you’ll have more to offer candidates than simply an increase in wages, such as the excitement of working in a new sector, training and development opportunities.
4) Increase diversity and flexibility
At UGP we’re big believers in a diverse workforce. Whilst the most obvious forms of diversity include essential elements such as race and age, diversity in terms of career background can be just as beneficial in helping to create an inclusive, open-minded working environment. In addition, hiring people with new ways of thinking is likely to make your business more flexible and adaptable to change.
5) Employee engagement
Exploring new talent pools and hiring someone with the potential and soft skills necessary to thrive in the role provides the employer with a fantastic opportunity to offer personal development and career growth. Employees who feel as if they are being developed are far more likely to feel engaged, stick at the role longer and ultimately improve your employee retention rate.
To paraphrase a well-known saying “the definition of insanity is hiring the same people over and over again and expecting different results”. While people with industry knowledge have an important part to play in creating an experienced work force, there are many benefits to hiring outside of your industry that should not be underestimated.
There’s strength in diversity
At United Gas & Power we’re proud of our diverse workforce. Having a strong mix of experienced industry professionals as well as people from outside our industry, it’s helped us to propel our business forward and we were recently recognised by the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 as one of the fastest growing UK businesses. If you want to work for a company that values your abilities and potential and not just your background, get in touch via our careers page.
Do you watch as your customers disappear before your eyes? (Warning, this blog comes with A LOT of puns!)
It’s witchful thinking that you can make everyone happy all of the time however there are practices that you should repeat in order to keep your customer base happy. At UGP we have some fangtastic tips.
To us, customer service is not just a department, it’s an attitude. Because of this, we’ve collected hundreds of great customer reviews and have an Excellent Trust Pilot score.
Creep it Real
Have clear, concise SLA’s and make sure you stick to them. Have a template email set up that once a communication is received that it’ll take X amount of hours or days for a response. Additionally, make sure you have the best channels set up, if you don’t have enough staff to take calls ensure there’s a process to either email or complete an online form.
Don’t Suffer with Recurring Nightmares
If you find the same complaints keep cropping up, you need to dig deeper. You should always be asking for feedback from your customers and analysing the data to see if any recurring themes keep coming up. However, if you are struggling to get to the bottom of something push for further feedback. Contact customers who have left poor reviews and ask them to go through what they were unhappy with, also ask your staff for feedback as they may be struggling to deliver the best service because of something that is easily fixed like an issue with equipment.
Hire Bewitching Staff
It’s really important to hire the right people. The quality of your customer service will never exceed the quality of the people providing it. If you invest in the right people you can take your customer service department from a necessity to a dynamic aspect for your business and even get noticed because of the way your people do things. Engaging customers and helping them get the most out of your product will give them a reason to tell others why they love your company.
Make it Purrrsonal
Ensuring your customer service is human will go a long way, start emails with first names and let the customer know that they are likewise speaking to a human! Also remember to give thanks, you can do shout-outs on social or just do an email campaign that is purely about showing gratitude.
Instil the Right Spirit
All of your employees whatever their department should understand the role they play in making the company a success and the message your company wants to send out. Ensuring branding is clear, concise and consistent is key but also making all staff aware of the company values and mission statement. Likewise, customers also like to know what your company stands for and how you represent yourselves is very important. It’s critical that you hire the right people but just as imperative that you instil your company values, so they don’t become disenchanted and you end up taking a great employee into a dissatisfied and likely a poor performing one.
Don’t be Frightened of Complaints
Harsh words are not always indicative of insight, and complaining customers are not always a sign that something is wrong. Be that as it may, sometimes great feedback is buried within the vitriol—give credence to every message.
To stay consistent in tone and process, use the CARP method:
Control the situation.
Acknowledge the dilemma.
Refocus the conversation.
Problem-solve so the customer leaves happy.
Receiving the same complaint repeatedly is the beginning of a narrative. This shouldn’t dictate what to do next, but it will begin to reveal what requires your attention.
Sprinkle Fairy Dust
Positive language is a great way to avoid accidental conflicts sprung from miscommunication. While the change is subtle, the effects are drastic.
Say one of your products is backordered for a month and you need to relay this information to a customer immediately. Consider the following responses:
Negative language: “I can’t get you that product until next month. It is back-ordered and unavailable at this time.”
Positive language: “That product will be available next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as soon as it reaches our warehouse!”
Redirecting the conversation from negative to positive places focus on the proposed solution. When the outcome takes centre stage, it reduces the odds that customers will be upset.
Give Your Customers a Magic Wand
Help customers help themselves. Great customer service should always be available, even when you aren’t. When done right, self-service is personal at scale. View your help content as a top tier reply from your support team made public for all to see and benefit from. Screenshots, videos, styling and more ensure you’re frequently asked questions will get frequently loved answers. You can do ‘how to guides’ or video tutorials that walk the customer through solving an issue, which some might prefer to do anyway.
Always Live Happily Ever After
Every conversation you close with a customer should end with you saying “Is there anything else I can do for you today? I’m happy to help!” and your customer saying “Yes, I’m all set!” loud and clear. Correctly closing a conversation shows the customer three vital things:
— You care about getting things right.
— You’re willing to keep going until you get things right.
— The customer is the one who decides what “right” is.
Every member of the UGP family plays a role in making the business a success and represents the company values no matter what department they work for. Continually asking for feedback and acting on it, is integral to business growth. Each individual, from the business owner, to the newest member of the team, has an important role in the development of a culture that delivers great customer service and turns the customer relationship from supplier to trusted partner.