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Delivering for our customers

Great service starts with understanding our customers’ diverse needs.

By asking this question – what do our customers want and need from us? – of customers of all ages and walks of life, we make sure our service is truly responsive.

In 2018/19, we continued to listen to and understand our customers needs and as well as continuing to gather feedback through surveys on the doorstep, focus groups and online research, we launched the industry’s first Citizens Jury.

The public panel, made up of 50 customers representing our diverse customer base have worked closely with us throughout 2019 to guide and develop our services.

All these efforts translated into another high set of marks in Ofgem’s annual customer satisfaction survey and global recognition for our approach – with the team winning three UK Customer Experience Awards and three International Customer Experience Awards in 2019.

To make sure we deliver a great service to customers, our regulator, Ofgem, sets performance standards. These are known in the industry as Guaranteed Standards of Performance (GSOP).

If we fail to meet these standards, customers are entitled to compensation. You can find out more information about all this in our Standards of Service.


Outputs - a detailed look

This table takes a detailed look at our customer performance for the current regulatorary period, known as RIIO-GD1. Simply click the plus arrow to read a brief commentary on what the statistic means, and see how we performed.

Customer service Target
Unplanned interruptions (score out of 10)

Unplanned interruptions are issues such as gas escapes, which result in the gas going of suddenly and without warning. Each year, Ofgem carries out surveys among a cross-section of customers affected by such an interruption, to gauge their level of satisfaction with our response. Our score of 9.49 is ahead of target. The professionalism and dedication of our emergency engineers had a lot to do with this great performance.

Planned interruptions (score out of 10)

Planned interruptions are periods when the gas goes off for essential repair or maintenance work. Customers are given advanced notice, usually through letters. Our score of 8.83 is ahead of target. Lots of elements went into this strong performance, including the use of detailed mitigation plans for each job, to minimise inconvenience, and weighting our programme of work, so that fewer jobs are carried out in winter, when the impact of losing gas is more acute.

Connections (score out of 10)

This is a measure of how we performed when installing private gas connections for homes or businesses. Our score of 8.93 out of 10 is ahead of our target. We’ve transformed our connections service in recent years, to make it far more customer focused, and this is reflected in the strong score.

Complaints metric

We receive an overall complaints score each year, based on four different elements: the percentage of complaints unresolved after one working day; percentage of complaints unresolved after 31 working days; percentage of repeat complaints and the number of Energy Ombudsman decisions that have gone against us.


Case studies

We’re working on some exciting projects that are helping us to stay one step ahead as we continue to strive to deliver highest standards of customer service. All of these projects have our customers firmly at the heart.

Smart meters: ensuring a better customer experience

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Although we don’t install smart gas meters, our engineers are called out if fitters encounter technical problems.

By working more closely with fitters, we have been able to reduce disruption and avoid multiple appointments for customers.

We provided toolbox talks for fitters, to highlight good working practices; provided specialist equipment to help fitters complete more jobs, first time, and took part in smart meter working groups to share best practice.

Approximately 900,000 smart meters have been installed in our region to date, and we will continue to make the roll-out as pain-free as possible for customers.

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Looking after customers when the chips are down

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Over the 2018 Easter weekend, 3,500 customers in the West Yorkshire village of Silsden lost gas supply, due to third party damage to the gas network.

Temperatures were bitterly cold, with snow and freezing conditions.

We put lessons learnt from previous incidents into practice, to make sure customers were well looked after while our engineers battled to restore supplies.

We worked with Bradford City Council and the British Red Cross, to identify and support 1,300 vulnerable customers, provided regular updates to the village’s extremely active Facebook page and even recruited volunteers from the local church and wider community to hand out information letters.

Feedback from the local community has been overwhelmingly positive.

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Speedier, fairer compensation

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Roadworks can adversely affect trade. Small businesses told us that the process of making a claim can be lengthy and complex, leaving them with cash flow issues.

In response, we’ve simplified the claims process, and offer advice and application forms right at the start of a scheme– rather than after 28 days (our previous approach).

We’ve also taken the unprecedented step of voluntarily doubling all our Guaranteed Standards of Performance (GSOP) payments for service failures, such as loss of gas for 24 hours or more.

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Keeping customers up to date

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In 2017/18, we replaced just over 500km of gas mains. This work is frequently disruptive, so regular, targeted updates can make customers’ lives easier.

We launched microsites with latest information and targeted Facebook ads, to keep customers informed during long-running schemes.

The approach proved highly successful. For example, Facebook ads used during a 20-week replacement scheme in Cheshire Road, Stockton, reached more than 7,000 customers – at a cost of just £60.

It’s an approach we intend to make business as usual.

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Looking back at Withernsea

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In January 2017, just under 3,000 homes in the coastal town of Withernsea lost gas supply due to a technical fault on our network.

It was the biggest incident in a decade for our business. Hundreds of NGN colleagues swung into action to get the gas back on and keep the town’s predominantly elderly population warm and informed.

We have since held a meeting with key stakeholders from the town to review our handling of the incident.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, but here were also some useful pointers for next time we face a major incident.

For example, it was pointed out that signs directing people to the drop-in center could be improved, and healthier hot food options provided for those without cooking facilities. We’re making changes in response.

Following Withernsea, and other disruptive incidents last year, we have also made the decision to double compensation payments from £30 to £60 for every 24 hour a customer is without gas. The decision, a first for our industry, was made in response to customer feedback, and provides greater recompense for the inconvenience of a lengthy period without gas.

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App-y customers

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A new app is helping us have more productive conversations with our customers.

Called myWORK, the app allows colleagues to gather satisfaction feedback; guide customers through a Carbon Monoxide (CO) awareness survey, and make instant referrals to our Priority Services Register for those needing extra support.

The app has been used more than 5,000 times since it was launched in April, and is now on the smartphones of more than 350 colleagues.

By gathering feedback in this manner each and every day, we can improve our understanding of our customers’ priorities, and identify any pressing issues that need to be resolved.




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Getting smart about meter roll-out

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A new generation of ‘smart’ gas and electricity meters has begun to be installed in homes across the UK.

Although this massive infrastructure project is lead by suppliers, it has implications for gas distributors and our customers. For example, we expect to see an increase in gas escapes during the programme due to the sheer volume of pipes and valves that are being worked on.

We’re working closely with suppliers, smart meter organisations and our own engineers to minimise inconvenience for our customers.

Our role includes advising the companies who are training meter installers (training the trainers, in essence), sharing local network data with suppliers and ensuring our own engineers know what is expected of them.

We will continue to monitor the programme as it gathers pace in our region, and do everything we can to support a smooth roll-out.

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No need to dig up the driveway

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If there’s a gas leak on a customer’s property, the location of the gas meter can make a big difference to the level of disruption.

If the meter is half buried in the garden, path or driveway, we usually have to dig down and cap off supply, so repairs can be made.

However, two NGN colleagues have developed a rubber stopper than can be threaded into a customer’s gas service pipe and then inflated, capping off supply without the need to dig.

The stoppers save around four hours, and £300 per job (that’s £60,000 a year), as well as all the customer inconvenience of a dug up driveway or garden.

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Keeping customers cooking on gas….even during pipe replacements

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What do you do when you need to replace a gas pipe in the street, but it’s the only one serving the community?

In the old days, we’d simply advise people that their gas would have to be switched off, or spend many hours building a temporary bypass pipe to keep gas flowing during the work.

Recently, however, we’ve begun trialling a flexible, hose-like pipe which we can rig up quickly. That way, we can keep customers cooking on gas, even while we are replacing the pipe in the street.

The trials have been a big success, and we’re currently looking at options for using this great bit of kit on a more regular basis.

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