Trust is a huge challenge facing the energy industry. In a sector where consumers have no choice but to buy our product, they want to be treated fairly and have confidence that they are not be taken advantage of.
In 2010, 86% of people told us ‘there’s a need for an energy company who puts the customer first’. We decided to tackle this head-on, with a new mission statement to be ‘the better energy company’. This has been transformational for our business.
The first task was to create a customer-centric culture. Since 2012 it has been mandatory for employees to document how their decisions pass a “Trust Test”. It boils down to one over-arching question: “Is this the right thing to do for our customers?” This has encouraged discussion about consumer needs and it helps everyone to make decisions that are in the customer’s interest.
Customers told us they didn’t have confidence they were getting a fair deal. So, in 2012 we launched a new proposition: Blue+Price Promise. It guarantees the low price to stay fixed for the duration of the tariff. The electricity is low carbon, at no premium. We don’t lock customers in with exit fees. And, we promise to tell customers if they could be better off elsewhere, even if it is with a competitor.
Another key focus has been to digitise the customer experience. The more intuitive we make our digital channels, the more we can lower our costs, helping to keep prices down. For example, we were the first supplier to offer ‘photo meter readings’ meaning customers can submit readings in just a few seconds with their smart phone, enabling accurate bills. We also help customers to renew their tariff online in three clicks. Two thirds of renewing customers use this and rate us highly for the easy experience.
There is still much to do and there are exciting times ahead. The industry is about to undergo a major transformation with smart metering and connected homes. These innovations will be a powerful way to help customers gain control over their energy use. For example, our HeatSmart thermostat enables customers to control their heating remotely, meaning no more unnecessary heating of empty homes.
Looking to the future, we will continue to stand up for what’s right for customers and deliver on our brand promise of “feel better energy”. Ultimately, our aim is to innovate to give power back to customers, rather than take it away.