Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for the network that keeps the power flowing to 8 million people and 3.9 million homes and businesses across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, has been awarded a Louder than WordsTM charter mark.
The nationally recognised accreditation, by charity Action on Hearing Loss, is awarded to organisations striving to offer excellent levels of service and accessibility for their customers and employees who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The electricity distributor was awarded the charter mark after demonstrating in a comprehensive, independent audit how it trains its people to communicate with customers and offers clear information and communications support whenever requested. This includes offering everything from text relay, text message and Powergrid Care services to investing in online services to help customers looking for a new connection to the region’s power network or needing support during a power cut.
To achieve the charter mark, Northern Powergrid also successfully demonstrated how it consults with customers and its people and that it has clear visible deaf-aware policies, robust health and safety procedures and is open about its employment practices.
Siobhan Barton, head of stakeholder and customer engagement, said: “This charter mark reflects the great work our people do every day to support our customers who may need extra support to meet their personal needs.
“Being there 24/7 for all our customers is vital for us. To receive feedback from the independent auditors complimenting our employees on being welcoming, helpful and keen to offer people who are deaf or hard of hearing with a good quality service, is excellent recognition.
“Our network investments mean power cuts don’t happen very often for most people - but it also means that if it does happen we need to make every contact count for our customers. If the lights go out we are like a 4th emergency service and have to act swiftly to get the power back on as soon as possible. By recognising and supporting their personal needs, and keeping them informed, we can provide excellent customer service at a time when they need it most or may feel more vulnerable.”
Northern Powergrid offers customers who may have a serious health condition, be medically dependent on electricity, elderly, have very young children or have mental health or specific communication needs, access to free Powergrid Care support services if their lights go out.
Depending on the nature of the power cut and their personal circumstances, customers who register may be able to benefit from a range of services including:
- between one and three hours - personal telephone updates from the electricity distributor’s specially trained Powergrid Care team plus a taxi to friends or family
- between four and six hours – option of a hot meal, a torch/glow stick and continued telephone updates
- between six and 12 hours – a call from the British Red Cross, visit from engineer and generator if needed
- 12 hours plus - option of alternative accommodation if required.
Customers can sign up friends or family – as well as themselves – at any time to the free service by visiting northernpowergrid.com/care or calling 0800 169 2996.
Northern Powergrid’s website also offers important information about how to get a new connection to the region’s power network, report a power cut and get updates. Customers can also follow Northern Powergrid’s 24-hour Twitter (@northpowergrid) and Facebook pages or use their mobile to visit its online interactive power cut map. Customer service advisors are available 24/7 at the electricity distributor’s contact centre and can be contacted by calling 105 - the new, free, easy-to-remember power cut phone number.