Thursday, September 29, 2011

An open letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Power

Dear Eng. Joseph Njoroge,


First of all let me commend you for the great strides you have made at Kenya Power. Despite working in an environment with high cost of supplies, rampant vandalism, legacy employees, and generally hostile consumers you have managed to accomplish a great number of things. Applying for new electricity connections especially in rural areas has never been easier or cheaper. Prepaid meters have introduced certainty in billing and protection of revenues for our national utility provider. You have also worked hard to improve the customer experience with more responsive customer care, use of information technology and a charter on response times.

Certainly if Kenya Power continues on this path you will delight your customers with a world class service that improves their lives. Naturally in rebranding a parastatal you will encounter challenges, but all challenges are solvable. I’d like to share some suggestions on how to overcome some challenges currently facing your firm so that you can achieve your goals even faster:

  • Customer Support on Telephone and Social Media

Dealing with upset or difficult customers is not easy; I can attest to this as a small business owner. However this is a most critical element to world-class service standards. Right now, getting support through your emergency number telephone number can be very frustrating experience. Yes the phone goes through, but only to a contact person who will transfer you - before fully understanding your issue - to a number that will ring for three minutes and then disconnect. Yesterday I made five consecutive calls with each ending in disconnection. Exasperated I finally pleaded with the contact person to be put on hold rather than transfer my call while she researched on my issue. The contact persons also rarely if ever give their names so when you call back you can’t be sure you’re speaking to the same person and have to repeat your issue.

Your twitter account @KenyaPower is another positive addition to your helpdesk but you need to devote more resources and personnel to make sure it is relevant and responsive. Queries I raised several times one month ago have gone unanswered to date. Your customer care department must continuously evaluate its performance and welcome feedback from its consumers to improve.

  • Handling Accounts Owned but Landlords but used by Tenants

For perfectly understandable reasons most landlords of mutli-tenant properties choose to register the Kenya Power accounts under their own names. This however creates a tricky situation for tenants who actually use the account when a problem arises. As one of your staff members succinctly put it: no contract exists between Kenya Power and the tenant. For example your staff will disconnect all the accounts of the landlord if one or more of the accounts are in arrears. This greatly inconveniences other tenants who have paid their bills. I’m sure there exist legal and regulatory arguments that might make finding a solution a challenge, but we’re counting on you to continue showing innovation even in such areas and find a solution.

  • Knowledgebase and Escalation Procedure

If all your consumers would pay bills on time, it would reduce your disconnection/reconnection overheads and at the end of the day make electricity cheaper for all of us. In addition as a shareholder and citizen I am quite motivated to ensure that no revenue of our utility company is lost. So when I report a meter that is moving even where the electricity is disconnected I would expect a swift and structured response. Instead what happened is that I got four different solutions from four different Kenya Power contact persons. It is important that your firm builds a knowledge base of common issues from which all contact persons can refer and where they are unable to, a structured way to escalate the issue. This will definitely ensure faster resolution of problems and delight the customers.

When I remember the KPLC ten years ago and compare it with the Kenya Power of today, I am pleasantly amazed at how much things have improved. I look forward to seeing even greater progress and I remain firmly in your corner cheering you on.

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