Continuous improvement in a rapidly evolving market - delivering customer service excellence for an industry regulator


Digital Communications and Technology






Continuous improvement in a rapidly evolving market - delivering customer service excellence for an industry regulator

The Client

The CRU (Commission for Regulation of Utilities) is Ireland’s water and energy regulator.  Their role is to ensure safe, secure, and sustainable energy and water supplies for homes and businesses across the Republic of Ireland. Regulation of energy and water underpins Irish economic competitiveness, investment, and growth, while also contributing to international obligations to address climate change.  Formed in 1999, the regulator manages unresolved customer complaints from consumers and businesses relating to the supply and management of energy and water.

The Challenge

One of the CRU’s responsibilities is to manage inbound complaints from customers relating to their energy or water supply.  The regulator, however, can only get involved once the customer has exhausted the complaints process with their provider.  The volume of complaints has seen significant growth over the past twelve months, in part due to rising global energy prices. There are also a growing number of enquiries from consumers regarding Mini-Generation and Microgeneration and associated Feed in Tariffs.  It was clear that a well organised and efficient customer-facing team was needed to manage these various customer facing tasks.

Our Solution

ADEC Arise were selected as the CRU’s customer facing partner in 2013.  As the first point of contact for customer enquiries it is important that the team are fully able to manage a wide range of inbound enquiries, and that they operate as a seamless part of the CRU team.

The team at ADEC Arise are responsible for dealing with all inbound enquiries to the regulator and triaging all complaints to ensure that they are eligible for the regulator to consider.  All inbound channels, such as calls and emails, are assessed by the team, and are routed appropriately – enquiries are answered, or more appropriate information signposted, and if consumers have a complaint, the team check that the supplier’s complaint process has been fully exhausted.  Once this checkpoint has been passed, the ADEC Arise team ensure that the consumer has completed the necessary process correctly, and request the information needed to make a decision from each provider.  

At each stage the team validate and confirm that the information is correct, and that nothing is missing, and once the case file is fully completed, they pass to the investigation team at the CRU for final adjudication. This means the team need to be fully aware of the consumer regulations governing the energy and water markets and trained in the processes they need to follow correctly.

Continuous Improvement

Partners with the CRU for over 10 years, ADEC Arise have applied a continuous improvement approach to the relationship, driving an increased focus on developing processes, training materials and documentation to improve the quality of every customer interaction.  The energy market is rapidly evolving, for example as smart meters are rolled out, the uptake of microgeneration increases, and energy companies enter and exit the market. With these developments and the CRU’s remit expanding, it’s vital that Agents can be brought up to speed as quickly as possible and are on top of all the changes.  

In partnership with the team at the CRU, ADEC Arise developed a structured briefing process to translate the complex legislation surrounding energy and water, and what it means for the consumer, into concise team communications which ensure that agents can speak accurately and authoritatively in response to customer queries.

Agents are subject to regular reviews of their calls and written correspondence, and a constant ongoing training programme ensures that team members, some of whom have been in the post for over 8 years, are ‘experts’ in the process.  The focus over the years has been on ensuring processes are as ‘tight’ as possible and that tools such as templates are developed to speed up response times and ensure consistency.

Managing increased demand – energy price shocks

In the run up to the winter of 2022, as energy prices increased due to widespread impact from Global geopolitical events, the regulator saw a notable increase in the number of enquiries and complaints from consumers.  This resulted in a rise in inbound enquiries and complaints about suppliers managed by the team at ADEC Arise. 

To support the efficient running of the complaint investigation and decision process, the CRU Investigation team together with ADEC Arise took a step back to review the existing process and checkpoints.  

This resulted in an approach where the ADEC Arise team took on more responsibility for information gathering and checking before passing the complaint to the CRU. This meant that the internal investigation team could concentrate on assessing the claim and making a final decision, reducing the amount of time needed to complete the admin, and speeding up the overall process.  The ADEC Arise team also took a more proactive role in keeping the consumer informed of the progress of their complaint via email, to avoid additional inbound calls and mails.

As part of the overall holistic approach to helping to reduce the level of complaints, the KPIs and reporting structures help to identify process-delaying issues with specific providers – and the team at ADEC Arise flag these up to the CRU to they can engage with providers as needed to address any issues.  This helps to improve overall performance of the service to the industry and reduces the levels of inbound enquiries.

"Having an experienced partner who can provide an external viewpoint on the way we service our customers helps us to see the bigger picture and anticipate future challenges.

The team are proactive, responsive and approachable – they love to take on board different approaches to see what can be done better and they are open to feedback.  We’ve got a great working relationship on all levels across the organization – we are all very much part of one team."

- Katherine Harris, Customer Success Manager, CRU