PRESS RELEASE: SSE officially became the first energy company in the UK to offer customer service via British Sign Language (BSL) through its customer service centres – revolutionising the way deaf BSL users can interact with them. The new service, provided in partnership with SignVideo, was officially launched by the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP, Jeff McWhinney, Chairman and Founder of SignVideo and Gareth Wood, SSE Customer Services Director at SSE’s Penner Road Customer Service Centre in Portsmouth.
SignVideo enables deaf or hard of hearing customers who use BSL to contact SSE about their energy and other services like central heating cover and phone & broadband via a secure video interpreting service if they prefer, instead of using other methods like email, web chat or letters.
Gareth Wood, SSE Customer Services Director, said: “We’re delighted with this new service for our customers who use British Sign Language. Service providers like SSE need to think hard about how we can make life easier for all our customers and this new service means the 150,000 people who use BSL in the UK can now choose to contact us, live, using this new service. We are very proud of our approach to customer service and of the way we are adapting our business to make services more accessible for our customers. This new service is another fantastic change that makes a real difference to customers whose needs were not being fully met by the traditional services offered through our customer service centres.”
Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP said: “I wholeheartedly commend SSE for implementing this innovative SignVideo service. This decision will allow their business to grow by making their products more accessible to a greater number of people. Other companies should take note and consider whether they’ll be left behind if they fail to recognise the business benefits of supporting disabled customers.”
Jeff McWhinney, Chairman and Founder of SignVideo, said: “It’s fantastic that SSE have partnered with us to provide equal access to their customer services for deaf BSL users. So often deaf BSL customers are overlooked in customer services provision and face challenges because of that oversight. SSE is the first energy provider to recognise that a step change is needed and we hope other energy providers will follow their example.”
The SignVideo service allows users to make and receive BSL interpreted video calls so they can effectively and effortlessly communicate with hearing people. This happens through a professional, full qualified BSL interpreter and the service is available instantly on tablets, smartphones, computers and laptops.