Rules of engagement: putting customers at the heart of communications
In Summer 2017, Ofgem commissioned Energy UK to undertake some work on customer communications. This was to help inform a wider review of the supply licence rules relating to customer communications, in light of a potential move towards Principles Based Regulation (PBR).
Energy UK’s report begins by identifying that customers need sufficient information to be able to:
- Pay for energy
- Know where to seek assistance in relation to their energy
- Complain if something goes wrong
- Know what to do in an emergency
- Find a deal to suit their characteristics and preferences; and,
- Be aware of and understand contractual obligations, rights, changes and events.
The report goes on to provide Energy UK’s view on relevant licence conditions and poses the following recommendations to Ofgem and Government:
- Ofgem should be bold in removing prescription;
- There is no need for further broad principles;
- There may be scope for some new narrow principles or light-touch prescription;
- The supply licence should not stipulate specific forms of communication such as a bill or Statement of Account; and
- Ofgem should work with the Government to seek to reduce the reliance on supplier-led customer communications as a means of promoting information beyond the six priority areas noted above.
Energy UK & Ofgem workshop on the Future of Customer Communications
Following the release of our report, Energy UK hosted a workshop on the future of customer communications. This provided an opportunity to continue dialogue, discuss the report and its findings and seek constructive views, challenges and suggestions on all recommendations posed.
The purpose of the workshop was specifically to discuss:
- Consumer needs in relation to customer communications
- How best to deliver positive consumer outcomes through specific customer communications
- What risks there are to manage
- What this could mean for Ofgem licence conditions reform
- What industry can do to provide assurance to Ofgem that they are treating customers fairly
Panel speakers at our workshop on the future of customer communications provided their thoughts on:
- What good customer communications look like?
- How will customer communications need to evolve in the future?
The contributing panel speakers have kindly summarised their views in the form of blogs which can be read below, alongside a blog from Energy UK which provides our own thoughts following our analysis.
- Energy UK Blog - Rules of Engagement: Reforming Customer Comms Rules
- Heather Smyth- Marketing Communications Manager, ScottishPower
- Jenny Ashmore - Chief Marketing Officer, Octopus
- Gillian Cooper - Head of Retail Energy Markets, Citizens Advice
- Jo Upward - Managing Director at Platform
Ofgem Working Paper
Ofgem has as of 14 December 2017 released a working paper entitled "Working paper: Domestic supplier-customer communications rulebook reforms."
This sets out their initial response to all inputs gathered in relation to the review of the supply licence rules around customer communications.