Utility Week

UTILITY Week 26th February 2016

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People & Opinion Utility Week community utILIty WeeK | 19th - 25th February 2016 | 7 "Putting the customer first – what will the impact be of the merger between BT and EE?" I n January BT's £12.5 billion takeover of EE was cleared following a ten-month inves- tigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). In this instance, the risk of bringing together the UK's largest mobile telecoms company and the lead- ing fixed-line and broadband business really sits with the customer. Will the creation of such a big company provide bet- ter value for consumers, or will it distort the market and lead to higher bills? In the energy industry we have seen that a sector dominated by large, established companies can present chal- lenges. Not dissimilar to the telecoms market, the energy sec- tor is dominated by a few major players, the big six, who have a majority of customers sitting on more expensive variable tariffs. Along with pricing, the effect on customer service is also a worry when large firms domi- nate – both BT and EE ranked lowest for customer service in their respective fields. There are many reasons for this, but oen we see that it is difficult for companies to provide a consist- ent, personalised service at such a large scale and, as a result, customers suffer. This trend is replicated in our own indus- try, where most of the big six consistently score below average on many measures of customer satisfaction. Consumers are oen apa- thetic or too nervous to switch Opinion Andrew Beasley, Managing director, Flow Energy from an energy provider who has supplied them for a long time. As a result, they are unaware that new companies frequently offer cheaper prices and better customer service. In fact, only 11 per cent of people in the UK changed their energy provider last year, even though around 51 per cent of customers could save an average of nearly £200 on their annual bill by switching. While new entrants in the mar- ket are getting better at shouting about the benefits of switch- ing, there is still a challenge to engage inactive customers. While it's too soon to clearly see the real effect of the BT/EE merger, for customers it may be that size does matter and that an even larger company may struggle to deliver good service. In telecoms, just as in energy, consumers need to be more aware that it is the smaller, more nimble providers with new approaches that can deliver true value across price and service. The CMA is due to report its findings on the state of the energy market later this year. Let's hope it paves the way for smaller companies to continue to do what they are doing so well: putting the customer first and making the bigger compa- nies try to do the same. Energy Innovation Awards shortlist revealed the shortlist for the energy Innovation awards 2016 has been pub- lished by the energy Innovation Centre (eIC). eIC's managing director Denise Massey, who chaired the judging panel, said: "the scope and quality of the shortlisted entries to this year's awards reflects the shift in the industry towards new technolo- gies, new business models and new ways of working." the winners will be announced at a black tie ceremony on 28 april in Manchester. the shortlist in full is: "When it comes to keeping people safe in our country, or getting a bigger, better deal on climate change, do we get more if we are in the EU? Yes." Prime minister David Cameron on the UK's position in the EU Best electricity network improvement bertsen International british Power International Cyberhawk Innovations htIP Viewsafe Best gas network improvement abriox enzen Global JD7 Proheat Systems Steer energy Synthotech the technology Partnership Best innovation implemented or adopted by a contractor amey - Cable detection amey - elgin Costain elimpus Fugro roames CNG Services Best innovation contributing to quality & reliability of gas or electricity supply abriox Kelvatek Open Grid Systems uLC robotics StatS Group the technology Partnership utonomy Best international trade Clarke energy Cyan technology Procemx Viewsafe Best offshore renewables innovation aPeM belzona Polymerics Cyberhawk Innovations eversheds Marine engineering energy Slns Sustainable Marine energy Best safety innovation elimpus eon reality MbW europe Fence Feet, spted by balfour beatty tollgrade Environmental impact Cambridge Carbon Capture htIP Industrial Noise and Vibration Centre Proheat Systems Synthotech Best smart grid innovation Flextricity Gridkey Kelvatek Limejump ea technology

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