Utility Week

UTILITY Week 27th June 2014

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

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UTILITY WEEK | 27Th JUnE - 3rd JULY 2014 | 25 Customers This week The Big Deal offering cheapest two-year fix Collective switching scheme results in 10,000 households getting the cheapest tariff available The Big Deal collective switching scheme has resulted in 10,000 households being offered the cheapest two-year fixed tariff on the market. The deal, which will cost the average dual fuel customer £1,055 a year, is not available on comparison sites. The 10,000 members of the collective switching scheme, more than 60 per cent of whom have never switched before, stand to save more than £5.8 million in total. Green Star Energy, which entered the UK retail energy market in 2013, offered the most competitive deal. Its sis- ter company, Hudson Energy, has been serving thousands of business customers in the UK for the past two years. Henry de Zoete, co-founder of The Big Deal, said: "By harnessing the buying power of 10,000 people, the Big Deal has created a new two-year market-beating tariff that you can't get on a price comparison site. A first for a collective switch." Joanne Thornton, general manager of Green Star Energy, added: "The Big Deal has brought together a group of people who don't oen switch and have been paying high bills for far too long. "We're delighted to be able to offer them a brand new exclusive market-leading two-year deal that will put money back into their pockets." The Big Deal campaign was been backed by 30 MPs of all three parties, including energy secretary Ed Davey, energy minister Michael Fallon and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna. MB EnErgY Npower threatened with telesales ban Npower will face a telesales ban unless it gets a grip on billing errors, Ofgem warned last week. The regulator has set Npower monthly targets to reduce late bills between now and August. If the supplier fails, it must halt all outbound sales activities until the problems are resolved. Ofgem has also opened an investigation into the billing prob- lems and soaring complaints that have dogged Npower for months. Sarah Harrison, senior part- ner in charge of enforcement at Ofgem, said: "Npower's recovery plan has not delivered as far and fast as is necessary. Our analysis of complaints data also raises some serious concerns, which will be thoroughly examined in our investigation." ELECTrICITY 35% of households looking at installing solar panels More than a third (35 per cent) of UK households are consider- ing installing solar panels in the next five years, according to research by Accenture. The annual New Energy Con- sumer research, which surveyed 652 UK energy consumers, found that the increase, from 8 per cent of households considering installing solar panels the previ- ous year, was "predominantly driven by a desire to become more energy independent". The survey also discovered that 73 per cent of respondents said their supplier could do more to help them reduce their energy bills. Only 24 per cent stated that they understood the reasons pro- vided by the energy companies for the recent price increases. EnErgY Second homes will get £12 rebate too Second homes and empty properties will get the £12 per property payment being pro- posed by the government as a "rebate" to offset the cost of high energy bills. In a consultation Decc said every electricity account would get the £12 rebate, which will benefit multiple account holders such as people with holiday homes. Vacant properties are also likely to be eligible for the £12 rebate. The government said that it would be "impractical and costly" to exclude second homes and vacant properties from the rebate. Decc has proposed making the rebate on 8 October 2014, and in the autumn of next year. It estimated the cost to the tax- payer at £620 million. The consultation closes on 17 July 2014. Members will share savings of more than £5.8m I am the customer Jo Causon "Customer service should be a strategic business initiative" Following last week's revela- tion that 1.7 million complaints were made to the six major energy providers in the first three months of 2014, I would like to emphasise the influence that customer satisfaction has on organisations' success in a market that is opening up to increasing competition. Research from the Institute of Customer Service consistently points to a correlation between high standards of customer service and the bottom line. plaints handling and resolution procedure contributes to overall customer satisfaction and leads to higher rates of customer retention and recommendation. New research from the institute into the utilities sec- tor will supply further insight into the key enablers that will build future opportunities for organisations to improve their customer satisfaction and busi- ness performance. Jo Causon, chief executive, Institute of Customer Service At a time of increasing com- petition and pressure for further regulatory action, those com- panies that focus on the whole customer experience should be best placed to succeed. Customers are more aware than ever about the standard of service they should receive. Cus- tomer service should be treated as a strategic business initiative, giving those organisations that put the customer at the heart of their operation the opportunity to differentiate themselves and gain market share. Organisations are being pre- sented with a real opportunity to improve and gain differen- tiation: providing a good com-

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