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Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has achieved a coveted ServiceMark accreditation from the Institute of Customer Service, thanks to a company-wide improvement programme.

The organisation, which delivers gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses in the North East, Northern Cumbria and most of Yorkshire, has been pursuing a rigorous business transformation programme for the past three years, to improve customer experience.

NGN was awarded the accolade following a rigorous assessment process by the Institute of Customer Service, the UK’s professional body for customer service.

NGN customers were asked to complete detailed questionnaires, describing the company’s strengths and weaknesses and an Institute’s representative carried out a six day assessment of the business.

Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service said: “ServiceMark is increasingly recognised as the standard for customer service excellence. Over 100 organisations have completed or are working towards ServiceMark. It enables organisations to benchmark themselves against best practice, gain a better insight into their customers’ needs and develop strategies to meet them.”

Eileen Brown, NGN’s Head of Customer Experience said: “Even though our customers can’t choose who delivers their gas, we still believe in providing a great service. We’re always striving to improve, and we measure ourselves not only against other utility companies, but also the best service providers of any industry.

“Gaining this accreditation underlines just how far we have come, and sends a really positive message to our customers that we are listening to them, and doing our very best for them, every day.”

NGN was recently ranked first for customer satisfaction of all UK gas distributors, based on customer satisfaction scores compiled by Ofgem, the energy regulator.

Recent initiatives from the company to improve customer service include the creation of a new role – customer care operatives – who are responsible for speaking to local homes and businesses ahead of planned pipe replacement work; a dramatically improved application process for customers needing a private gas pipe connection and a call centre initiative to resolve the majority of incoming customer issues within an hour.