Wednesday, 21 October 2020

News — Quality Of Service Standards In The Eswatini Electricity Supply Industry

Quality Of Service Standards In The Eswatini Electricity Supply Industry
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What every electricity customer should know

Across the globe, quality of service standards are an essential part of business operations, as they represent a critical element for customer service excellence. They define minimum expectations for customers and service providers, facilitate results-driven management and promote customer satisfaction. A service standard is a reasonable and measurable expectation from the customer, and an honest commitment taken by the service provider, to attain or surpass expectations.   In essence, service standards have two main goals: establish yield objectives for the service provider, e.g, issue  quotations for electricity supply within 10 working days where existing infrastructure can be used; as well as to inform customers about what they have the right to expect from the service provider. 

In the energy sector, policymakers in close consultation with industry participants have to develop appropriate and fit-for-purpose quality of service standards that set the minimum requirements/expectations for different service activities.   They are an important  tool in the electricity supply industry value chain.  In essence, this type of standards refer to the quality of service received by customers from electricity distributors, who are responsible for the supply of electricity to the end consumer.  The standards act as an instrument to guarantee high standards of performance which provide protection to individual customers, and  guide the electricity distribution network operator on how to best offer their services to their customers.  As we wrap up to the customer service week, lets discuss the quality of service standards applicable in the Eswatini Electricity Supply Industry (ESI). 

The country’s quality of service standards were  adopted from the South African Quality of Service standard (SANS047-1:2005) by the Swaziland Standards Authority in collaboration with various customer organizations and ESI participants  They cover a range of quality of service activities that licensees must provide periodic report on to the Energy Regulatory Authority to prove their compliance to these standards. These include  processing of requests for supply, credit metering, prepayment metering, planned and unplanned network interruptions, management of customer complaints, enquiries and requests, telephone services and management of disconnections, amongst others.  Let’s look at some of the elements that are frequently asked by electricity customers, which are addressed in the country’s quality of service standards.

Quality Of Service Standards In The Eswatini Electricity Supply Industry
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Processing of requests for supply

The standards specify that if a customer has made a written request for supply and has provided all the necessary documentation, he/she must receive their quotation within 10 working days where there is existing infrastructure ready for use, or within 1 month, where network extensions are required; and if new networks have to be installed or supply is required for industrial and commercial customers, the period for providing a quotation shall be negotiated between the customer and the service provider.  Furthermore, the standards stipulate that if the customer has paid all the money, he/she owes and met all other obligations indicated by the service provider, the customer must be connected within 16 days for a connection that does not require network extensions at the connection point , and within 45 or 60 days where  network extensions are required depending on the nature of the expected  extension.  In the case of new networks, schemes, commercial, industrial customers, if extensions are required, the timeframe for providing the supply shall be negotiated between the customer and the service provider.

Planned and unplanned network interruptions

In the case of interruptions, the standards specify that the service provider shall provide a facility for customers to report such at any time of the day, and provide the reporting customer with a reference number for this fault.  Should there be need for planned interruptions, the service provider shall ensure that customers are given adequate notice, except under exceptional circumstances.  Where possible, at least 48 hours advance notification should be given of any planned interruption.

Customer complaints, enquiries and requests

It is specified that complaints should normally be resolved within 2 weeks, where the customer wrote to the service provider, the complaint should be acknowledged in writing within 3 working days if the matter cannot be resolved on first contact.  In the case of queries, they should be resolved within 2 weeks.  Furthermore, all general customer requests, eg. moving of meters, should be replied to in writing by the service provider within 2 weeks of receipt of a written request.

The standard provides minimum requirements and the service providers  are encouraged to exceed these expectations whenever possible.  Knowledge and understanding for the quality of service standards can help the electricity customer to know their dues in the sector, and ensure their expectation from the service provider are feasible.  These standards are accessible at the Eswatini Standards Authority under specified terms and conditions. 

Quality Of Service Standards In The Eswatini Electricity Supply Industry
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