An E.ON bigwig has admitted power firms face a real challenge in regaining customer trust. Sara Vaughan told an audience it was imperative for firms to get consumers on board before prices rose too levels that were too high.
E.ON’s Director of Group Regulatory and Sustainable Development told an audience at Marketforce’s Smart Utilities Forum: “What we may have gained in choice, I believe we as energy companies have lost in trust. Customers no longer trust energy companies to do the right thing for them and this just can’t go on.”
She said it was important for the utilities to connect with energy users if those firms were to start introducing new energy saving technologies such as smart meters and expect customers to get on board.
According to recent statistics, consumer trust is at an all time low. Mrs Vaughan said this was reflected in their customer feedback: “If you look at the number of complaints we received in the fourth quarter at the end of last year, I’d expect you to be shocked. There were nearly 280,000 complaints in that period. That’s 3,729 per 100,000 customers… That number is far too high.”
Power companies are aware their prices are rising and probably expect greater backlash from their customers. Mrs Vaughan said trust had to be clawed back if future changes were to be made: “We need to move to what I call ‘engage and save’- simplifying tariffs, engaging with customers so they’re not only on the right tariff, but we’re also helping them save money and energy.”
“Energy efficiency has to underpin everything we do if bills are to remain affordable for the majority of customers.”