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As Ofgem moves towards a regulatory crackdown on the standard variable tariffs two-thirds of households are on, findings from mobile customer activation provider, Wiraya, have shed new light on the state of affairs between utilities providers and consumers.

Of the 66% of UK households Ofgem estimates are on worst-value tariffs, just 17% are actually aware of it according to the study of 2,000 residents. Similarly, 65% of respondents expressed they either hadn’t heard of government plans to cap the price of utilities from 2018, or weren’t sure what they involved.

As the country heads into another cold winter with expensive tariffs in place and price caps yet to take effect, the majority (54%) of both young and old age groups are preparing to layer up rather than turn the heating on.

Over 65s left in the dark

Over a quarter of over 65s (27%) are aware they are currently on a standard variable tariff. Despite this, 45% of people over 65 state they don’t know or can’t name a means of communication by which their energy provider informs them of their tariff options.

By comparison, 62% are aware of the government plans to introduce price caps on energy provision and over half (55%) of these respondents are in a position where they will be directly affected by the plans.

Sam Madden, commercial director at Wiraya, comments “Of course this represents a huge body of work for the sector. It’s all about truly effective communication. There’s plenty of value customers can see in an effective relationship with their utilities provider, but this hinges on the company knowing the right channels to engage, inform and ultimately activate customers to make the right tariff decision.”

Time to improve reputation

Intriguingly, price is among the less immediate reputational concerns facing utilities providers. While 18% of consumers agree that their provider is value for money, support drops to 6% when asked if they value their provider because they are honest and 3% when assessing proactivity.

As a result, just 14% of customers over 65 say they are being advised on their energy bill by their provider. Similarly, 10% of under 25s say can depend on their provider. Instead, parents, children and friends are the go to for 17% of people within these demographics. Sadly, another 33% state they have nobody to turn to.

Madden concludes, “The tools and automation technologies now exist to make the process of identifying the right means of engaging specific audiences far easier than it’s ever been before, across any given channel. It’s an enormous opportunity in this highly competitive space take a proactive step forward and lead a reputational change.”

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