Tue 06 Feb 2018

Is technology changing the face of energy supply as we know it?

Last month Cornwall Insight published their Q4 2017 domestic market share survey which highlighted the growth of small and medium energy suppliers in the UK market.  This followed hot on the heels of the Which? Annual Customer Service survey, which emphasised that the smaller energy suppliers were firmly settling at the top of the table which regards to customer service.  The only ‘larger’ supplier who featured in the top ten was Ovo, with the rest of the large suppliers – the traditional ‘big six’, featuring much lower down.

Smaller suppliers deliver better value and better customer service

Week by week we are seeing more and more evidence that the newer entrants are able to deliver more compelling propositions, better prices, and crucially, a better customer experience than the big six.  But why is this?  What is the difference between these suppliers and why are these smaller entrants (a relative term, Bulb has already breached 250,000 customers!) making their mark?

There are a multitude of factors at play – starting with the entrepreneurial mind-set that is typical of those who have looked at the UK energy supply market over the past 24 months or so. The big six came from an ex-nationalised industry, and with it a confusion of different systems and processes, and large workforces that they used to paper over the cracks.  With no real competition in the market, and no active switching from consumers the big six were able to sit back and grow larger and more bloated – with no need to look at innovative new technologies or processes.

Fast forward to 2017 and these businesses had all gone through painful system overhauls in the past ten years – each with their own tale of woe.  The new systems had been over-engineered to fit with the BAU processes.  Rather than taking the opportunity to look at how technology could revolutionise their businesses, they let their over-sized businesses dictate how the tech should work – meaning complex and expensive project delivery.

Better business processes and automation is leading the way for smaller suppliers

The new entrants have had the privilege of starting from scratch – but they’ve also had the opportunity to see what NOT to do by watching the traditional energy suppliers.  They’ve capitalised on the best, most up to date technology and designed their businesses and processes around what the new systems can do – not what they think they should do.  Automation is the name of the game – getting systems to take the strain, not people, and that’s led to leaner business models, with lower costs and less room for human error.

The new entrants also have a more flexible approach to dealing with change – they recognise that this is an industry in flux so change is built into their DNA.  System change is built into their contracts with providers – so they don’t need lengthy or expensive projects that tie up huge project teams for years at a time.

TrustPilot stats show the best performing suppliers on customer service – and we’re proud that the top four are all Gentrack customers and that 7 out of the top 11 suppliers in the Which? rankings have chosen a Gentrack product

All of this means that the businesses can focus on the important things – making sure their bills are accurate, and that customers are happy.  And that is why they are toping the customer satisfaction tables.