We all need to work together to empower users

We recently assembled at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, along with other industry leaders, to join the discussion about the key issues in the energy market at the Energy Live Consultancy Conference. As one of the lead sponsors for the event, we were keen to take the temperature of the industry.

Numerous topics were broached, from the triggering of Brexit and what that will mean for our industry, to evaluating if whether a year on the CMA has made significant, or indeed any impact. A key point of discussion was the growing engagement of energy users, with the question “Is the consumer becoming more switched on?” being posed to the audience of TPIs and suppliers; a subject that we have often led, and encouraged, discussion around.

Our industry has been dogged with mistrust in recent years, and much of this has been attributed to a lack of transparency from suppliers, and poor education of end-users. Arguably this is what has led users to engage more in the details of their energy supply, but with the cooperation of suppliers, we believe that this could be taken much further.

In order to change user perceptions and attitudes of the energy industry, we must actively engage and communicate with them. This January, the CMA highlighted the lack of customer interest, knowledge and engagement as a key issue faced by the industry, and advised that for this to be improved, suppliers must take the lead; mirroring our own recommendations.

If suppliers and TPIs can equip energy users with the right tools and knowledge to allow them to understand which contract is best for them and how they will be charged, then they will feel empowered. At CNG, we know that if we can help our customers understand the products and services that we provide for them, they will trust that they are our top priority, which is why we consider transparency, honesty and education as being so vital in our industry.

At the ELCC event the general feeling was that many end users are making efforts to better understand their supply, encouraging more trust in suppliers, something that our industry surely needs. However, there is still a long way to go. Only last year, Ofgem stated that energy suppliers aren’t motivated to engage their customers, despite the need for their co-operation.

Before real progress can be made, more brokers and suppliers must realise that it’s their duty to empower energy users. This is something that would not only improve the experience of customers, but could dramatically improve the perception of our industry and the relationships that we have with the end user.