Poor customer service coupled with the perception of ever increasing energy bills and growing company profits have eaten away at trust in the sector, according to WNS senior vice president, energy and utilities, UK and Europe, Chris Lloyd.
Q. Why is there a lack of trust?
One of the main problems is the perceived levels of profit. A lot of energy users see large figures
being bandied around the profits companies are making, and this comes as consumers are seeing their bills rise. That harms trust levels.
On top of this there is the poor level of customer service. There is the feeling that the whole market is broken and nothing is working.
Q. What can suppliers do to rebuild trust?
It’s all to do with communication and providing a consistently good service. It doesn’t have to be outstanding or excellent, as that costs a lot of money to provide and that’s not what people want. They just want a consistent service that works.
The suppliers also need to offer clear and simple tariffs, which can be compared between companies, because being unable to compare deals leads to confusion, and ultimately a lack of trust. On top of this, more communication with consumers would help bust some of the myths about energy providers and increase levels of trust.
Q. What can the regulator do to increase trust?
The more a regulator can engage with uninformed customers, or drive the energy companies to do so, the more it will rebuild trust. The energy companies know the regulator but the consumers don’t so much. The regulator needs to step up, to promote things that are happening for consumers in the market – and they’ve got an opportunity to do so with smart meters. The uninformed are those with most distrust, and the regulator can assist with that.
Q. How has the political debate around energy affected trust?
With an election coming up, the energy sector was always going to get a kicking as the parties try to win votes. However, the promises of price caps or wider intervention will have a huge impact on the way the sector is run, and drive energy companies to reduce their cost to serve. This could lead to more distrust as energy companies take their eye off rebuilding trust and have it on reducing their cost to serve. Politicians should be supportive of measures to gain trust instead of using the energy sector as a political football to gain votes.
Q. Why is WNS getting involved with the Customer Trust Council, and what do you hope it will achieve?
As a sector, utilities are looking to gain trust and improve customer service. WNS has wide experience in other sectors and in the utilities space globally and feel we can use our experience as part of the Council to help achieve this. We would like the Council to help the sector to get away from the bottom of the customer service satisfaction table, and for net promotor scores across the sector to increase. These are good indications of things improving and that stability, and trust in the sector, is growing.
WNS-Utility Week Customer Trust Council
WNS and Utility Week in partnership have formed a Customer Trust Council to look at practical ways the E&U industry can rebuild trust with the public.
To read monthly updates on the council’s activity,