Utility Week

Utility Week 27th September 2013

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Interview T he chap on the phone is worried that a war in Syria could send his energy bills spiralling. Elderly, disabled and on a tight budget, he's got a list of concerns that takes a good 30 minutes to work through. And then he remembers a few more. Utility Week listens in, fascinated, as call handler Tracey works through his list with calm, patient friendliness, ending the call by making an appointment for him to have a smart meter fitted, giving him greater control over his energy use and hopefully driving down those energy bills. We're in Eon's shiny, eco-friendly office in central Nottingham and Tracey, one of the dedicated team for Eon's growing customer base of smart meter users, is a smiling embodiment of chief executive Tony Cocker's vision to make Eon a "trusted energy partner" for its customers. A few more calls and we're off upstairs to meet the man himself and discover whether his plans to refocus the business on customer service can survive the squeeze on investment, the political and media savaging of suppliers, and the relentless rise of energy bills. Tony Cocker is not your typical chief executive. Downto-earth, friendly, fiercely intelligent, he doesn't seem to possess the ego that usually goes hand-in-hand with a corner office. That may be why he was able to so quickly perceive that something was very wrong with the relationship between UK energy suppliers and their customers when he returned from a stint in Eon's German HQ to take the reins in 2011. "I read the FT and the business press from the UK," he says of his four years' abroad, "but just by doing that you don't have an appreciation of the political and media climate and the hostility towards energy companies in general. So when I first returned, it was like looking from the outside in, and I was bombarded with that every day by reading the papers. Also in my first few weeks I spent time trying to get to know the organisation, going out UTILITY WEEK | 27TH SEPTEMBER - 3rd OCTOBER 2013 | 9

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