Npower today admitted its customer accounts are in disarray after it moved to a new SAP IT system. The news comes just two weeks after the company announced large job cuts and contracts to outsource its backend systems.
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The energy company transferred customer account details to the new billing solution in November, but in a letter sent to customers this week entitled “We’re sorry,” it said the change meant several bills and statements didn’t go out when they should have, direct debits weren’t set up properly and new customer accounts were not recorded.
As a result, Npower said customer service had been impacted, with longer waiting times and many customers coming up against the issues.
“We look after 5.4m customer accounts in the UK,” the letter said. “Our aim is to make sure everyone has the best possible experience as an ower customer. However, we’ve let many of you down recently in the overall levels of customer service we’ve been providing.”
“We apologise unreservedly. We promise that if you have been impacted by the billing system problems we’ve had, you will not lose out financially as a direct result.”
We contacted SAP for comment on the failure. It said: "SAP understands that RWE npower has been and is continuing to make improvements to its customer services processes as part of an IT system transformation programme.
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"We are in communication with the implementation partners and RWE Npower in order to resolve the difficulties they are facing with this programme. Both RWE Npower and the implementation partners can be assured of our support and assistance, should the need arise."
The company claimed this move would “save on current customer service costs, at a time of external pressures on energy prices."
It said: “This restructure is necessary if we are to deliver the levels of service our customers deserve.”
It defended the plan in its letter, saying: “We still have a long way to go, we know that, but the comprehensive changes we’re making to our systems and services should improve over time, making everyone’s experience with Npower better.”
The firm admitted it was still experiencing problems as a result of the system, but had put an additional 800 staff onto the project to fix it and in a statement released today said: “We're working hard to address these issues and have them fixed by early 2014."
Npower also promised to write to anyone hit by the failure to explain what was happening and extend repayment periods for those affected.