23 April 2012 14:10
E.ON launches 7 step plan to make energy easier for small business customers
E.ON has today announced a series of improvements for its small and medium (SME) business customers, including new industry standards for business sales by energy brokers and a customer panel to reflect the views of business, to ensure they receive the best possible service from their energy supplier.
The changes form part of E.ON's Reset Review which was launched in January to examine every aspect of its relationship with its customers - from tariffs and bills to how customers pay, how products are sold and how support is offered. E.ON is now in a position to update on some of the improvements already made for small businesses and highlight some of the changes to come.
Tony Cocker, Chief Executive of E.ON UK, said: "Earlier in the year we started out on a mission to reset our relationship with our customers. We're working with our customers to understand and address the issues which really impact them, so that they can be confident that we're the best to do business with going forward.
"Today we're pleased to announce a series of commitments for our small business customers which will help improve their overall experience; from finding the best product, managing their account and providing help when they need it.
"One of our key aims continues to be the improvement of sales standards for small business customers across the entire industry, which is why we're launching a full code of practice for business energy brokers and will be approaching other energy suppliers to invite them to sign up to this single code too."
Reset Review update on initiatives for small businesses
Changes that have been made within the first three months of the Reset Review as well as new measures to be implemented over the coming weeks and months include:
1. New Code of Practice: Over 50% of all small businesses use a broker1 to switch energy supplier but there are currently no minimum standards in place to protect small businesses throughout the sales process. To improve sales standards across the industry E.ON is today launching a full Code of Practice for SME business energy brokers which sets out the standards it expects them to adhere to when selling to customers and hopes that other energy firms will adopt this single independent set of principles. The code will ensure the product offered is appropriate to the needs of the customer and make the entire sales process a more transparent and positive experience. From today, E.ON will be working with all of its SME business energy brokers/consultants to implement the set of principles as part of their sales processes and intends to operate these principles as standard from 31 July;
2. Improved billing standards: E.ON works hard to ensure that bills are right first time for every customer and to protect its small and medium sized business customers against large back bills. In the small number of cases where this is necessary, E.ON will not back bill SME customers over three years and aims to reduce this to one year by the end of 2013;
3. Fairer debt repayment: Where a SME customer gets into debt, E.ON gets in touch with the customer earlier to discuss their circumstances, ability to pay and set up a realistic repayment plan;
4. Smart metering: E.ON has already assisted 550 small businesses to reduce debt, gain a more competitive price and improve control of their energy use by fitting pay-as-you-go smart meters. This trial has been so well received by small business owners that E.ON intends to install a further 2,500 pay-as-you-go smart meters in businesses by the end of 2012;
5. Better Direct Debit policy: E.ON will be overhauling its Direct Debit policy for small and medium business customers joining E.ON and paying by fixed Direct Debit will have their payments reviewed regularly to ensure that their account balance is at zero on their anniversary of joining the company, rather than in spring;
6. Contract renewal: E.ON will be working to enhance communication to its SME business customers as they near the end of their contract period to help them make more informed decisions;
7. Bill improvements: E.ON will be looking to change its bill format and working with customers over the coming months to design a new, clearer bill format for SME businesses.
To further strengthen its commitment to changing the way it does business, E.ON has enlisted the help of Duncan Sedgwick, a leading figure in the energy industry with over 35 years of experience working for both energy suppliers and trade associations. Duncan will be responsible for managing the Code of Practice and will ensure the scheme is managed independently and in such a way that other energy suppliers and business energy brokers are able to adopt its principles.
Duncan said: "I'm extremely pleased to have been selected by E.ON to head up this initiative. I've worked in the energy industry for many years and believe that improving sales standards for businesses, and not just residential customers, is extremely important. My number one priority is to ensure that this code of practice is developed fairly and represents customers, brokers and suppliers alike. I'm very much looking forward to the challenge of initially getting all of E.ON's business energy brokers who deal with small businesses on board and then working to influence the rest of the industry to adopt a single set of standards that will make relationships more efficient."
Tony continued: "The changes don't end here and we want to go even further. In order to truly understand what our business customers want, we need to open up the lines of communication, so we're also setting up a customer panel for businesses. I want our customers to know that we're always fair, open and genuinely helpful."
To join E.ON's new YourSay panel for business customers please visit: www.eonenergy.com/smepanel.
Notes to editors:
1. Dec Tech research carried out on behalf of E.ON in 2010;
- Duncan Sedgwick has worked within the energy sector for over 38 years both before and after privatisation. He was the inaugural Chief Executive of the Energy Retail Association from 2003 to 2008 where he acted as a key spokesman for the industry as well as overseeing the introduction and operation of Codes of Practice for selling and billing to residential customers. Previously he was the Director of Business Transformation and the Director of Retail Mass Market for Powergen and the Customer Service Director for East Midlands Electricity. He now operates as a Non-Executive Director and Board level advisor to a number of organisations both inside and outside the energy sector. In addition, he has been the Chairman of the Learning & Skills Council, the Chairman of Race for Opportunity and the Chairman of the Citizens Advice Bureau within the East Midlands area;
- E.ON is one of the UK's leading power and gas companies - generating electricity, retailing power and gas, developing gas storage and undertaking gas and oil exploration and production, It is part of the E.ON group, one of the world's largest investor-owned power and gas companies. E.ON employs around 12,000 people in the UK and more than 79,000 worldwide;
- In the UK, E.ON supplies power and gas to around five million domestic, small and medium-sized enterprise and industrial customers - meaning the company has to buy approximately 122.7 billion kWh of power and gas each year to meet their needs. E.ON also offers innovative energy services and technologies tailored to meet its customers' needs, and is helping customers become energy fit by encouraging them to insulate their homes, moderate their energy usage and even generate their own power;
- In January, E.ON launched its Reset Review which is designed to examine every aspect of E.ON's relationship with its customers - from tariffs and bills to how customers pay, how products are sold and how support is offered. E.ON's Reset Review continues to identify and discuss changes with customers through its 28,000-strong YourSay panel, its independent Customer Council, its 1,000-strong MySay employee panel and through discussions with consumer advocacy groups such as Which? and Consumer Focus. For further information, details of the improvements made to date or to join customers already on the YourSay panel, please visit www.eonenergy.com/reset;
- E.ON's generation portfolio includes world-class gas-, coal- and oil-fired power stations. E.ON is a market leader in combined heat and power (CHP), and is one of the UK's leading green generators with 21 wind farms and the UK's first wave power generator, with another 1,500MW of renewable capacity under development;
- One of the many ways E.ON leads the energy industry is through its commitment to market liquidity and transparency as evidenced by its actions on the day-ahead UK power markets including the N2EX auction. E.ON was the first company to sign a gross-bidding agreement with N2EX and leads the market with a volume equivalent to some 80% of E.ON UK's generation activity being traded so far this year.
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