Mandeep – Help in a crisis

Mandeep, a Finance Assistant at Auriga, describes her work on emergency fuel payments to help customers in very vulnerable situations.

Mandeep manages the emergency fuel payment process – ensuring that customers in vulnerable circumstances who are in crisis and have no money for fuel are quickly provided a voucher to take to PayPoint and Post Office Payzone outlets to top up gas and electricity. We carry out this service for over 20 different clients across the country, one of the largest being Npower.

Keeping the power going to a household in crisis is a big responsibility, requiring professionalism, a quick response and high levels of customer service when issues arise.

Typically, Mandeep deals with around 50 payment requests a week, but in December 2019 requests increased significantly; unexpectedly she had to deal with double the volume against normal seasonal demand.  As Christmas approached, Mandeep was receiving over 100 requests a day for urgent payments to be made. Clients, unable to provide notice about this surge in demand, asked Auriga to help manage the challenging situation.  Alongside managing this increase in payments, other fuel voucher contracted services went live – including work with the NEA – so we had many more new customers to help each week.

Mandeep said “I took it in my stride, I’ve always enjoyed working under pressure and felt really motivated to help people. We made process improvements and I completed all the payments – often working overtime to get through it”. She had the confidence and drive to work through a tough situation – skills gained in her previous job in banking and debt.

On Christmas Eve, Mandeep continued processing emergency fuel vouchers; at 4.30pm she took a call from a customer without power, seeking assistance with a fuel voucher.  Her issue was getting the voucher to work, which Mandeep had processed earlier that day and the customer had taken to her local village PayPoint store.  Mandeep spoke with the customer and worked directly with shop employees to try and resolve the issue.

Unfortunately, the manager was not contactable, and the shop could not address the problem. The customer was highly anxious and asked to try an alternative PayPoint shop, Mandeep explained the closest one was five miles away. Walking alone in the dark, the customer had the support of Mandeep on the phone, for the entire journey.  Fortunately, the staff in the shop were supportive and Mandeep could work with them to process the voucher for the customer – no small task!

When the customer got home at 11.30pm she called Mandeep to say the meter had been topped up – she was overjoyed to have the power on – so grateful she could barely speak.

Mark Abrams, Auriga Chief Executive said: “We are extremely proud of Mandeep, she worked like an emergency service, ready to deal with whatever was thrown at her, to ensure this customer had a warm home for Christmas.”

“Providing outstanding customer service is a major priority for us,” said Kim Wootton, Auriga Operations Director. “We have to be ready to deal with a wide range of enquiries. If there is a problem, then of course customers can be quick to contact us.  Although this is not a 24hr service – Mandeep went above and beyond to avoid this customer facing a crisis at Christmas.”