A consistent focus on the wishes and needs of present and potential customers, as well as on their satisfaction, is the foundation for strategic action in all Group companies. Customers’ needs are changing, with increasing demand for digital contact methods, digital services and better service outcomes (e.g. shorter response times) in a context of rising price sensitivity.
Ongoing monitoring and professional development initiatives help to ensure high-quality customer relationship management, whether over the phone or in person. In addition, our pricing and product selection are under constant review. We pay particular attention to digital services, which we are currently developing and expanding in various forms.
Energie AG maintains a data protection management system to ensure Group-wide implementation and compliance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (EU 2016/679; GDPR, in effect since May 2018) and the new Austrian Data Protection Act 2018 (Datenschutzgesetz; DSG).
Energie AG’s Data Protection Policy explains the data protection management system’s essential operational framework. Energie AG is aware of the trust that our customers place in us. As a result, we treat security, integrity and trust as a top priority when handling their personal data in our day-to-day operations.
The data protection processes we have implemented log and process valid complaints regarding breaches of customer data protection, resulting in corrective action if necessary. No valid complaints were brought to our attention by third parties or the regulator during the 2017/2018 fiscal year. The data protection management system will undergo further development and operational implementation in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.
Customer Phone Service
When customers contact us by telephone, it is highly important for their enquiry to be dealt with promptly. Trained, top-class customer service staff are essential to meeting these expectations. The high quality of customer information is also confirmed by the results of the independent nationwide tests conducted in 2017 by business magazine Trend on the topic of customer care. Energie AG was awarded the ÖGVS Service Award 2017 by the Austrian Association for Consumer Studies in the Customer Service by Telephone category. Energie AG’s customer service performed extremely well against the benchmarks of the energy industry and other sectors.
In the event of failures, which cause a substantial increase in calls from affected customers within a very short period of time, calls need to be answered and processed with rapid turnaround. Even heavy and unpredictable call volumes can be managed thanks to a flexible on-call service model, individual customer service employee flexibility and suitable home office infrastructure.
Introduction and Use of New Technologies
Energie AG is actively committed to introducing and using new technologies. The customer is also at the heart of our approach in this area. For instance, Netz OÖ is one of Europe’s leaders when it comes to comprehensive smart metering, which creates new opportunities for customers to save on energy by providing precise consumption information. More than 76% of all customer systems are equipped with intelligent electronic electricity meters in Netz OÖ's service area. This system provides a highly reliable power supply to customers.
The new smart meter technology presents the possibility of developing new business models. Intelligent electricity meters are the key household device that makes it possible to turn a home into a smart home. In the future, interaction between electricity meters and home automation systems will facilitate perfect use of energy, which users will be able to generate, purchase or store. All of this will bring the customer cost savings, lower consumption and greater comfort.
Our Czech water investments have been using smart digital water meters for several years at this point. To date, the consumption data has been exclusively used for billing purposes. Now two projects will make it possible to provide the data to end users on request. In its “Voda pod kontrolou” (“Water Under Control”) project, the Water Segment is taking on the challenge that stems from its more than 300 contractual partners in local authorities using different types of meters. Instead, it will be rolling out a new system. Under both systems (water meters with wireless communication technology as well as meters equipped with a register unit), the customer will receive a continuous consumption overview in the final set-up and will receive an alert if certain volumes are exceeded (burst pipe warning). The “Water Under Control” project’s official market launch will take place in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Information Security Management
In order to be able to reliably guarantee continuous service to customers and other stakeholders in line with their needs, Energie AG has maintained a comprehensive, Group-wide information security management system for a number of years. Especially in the age of the digital transformation and cyber-attacks, detecting and countering risks and attacks of this nature is of great importance. To this end, Energie AG periodically and systematically analyses and evaluates threats to its information security, decides its stance on any risks and takes effective steps to control and reduce these risks. Key areas of activity are ISO 27001-certified and are regular reviewed. Staff users undergo annual (electronic) training programmes and are proactively notified of any particular threats.
In addition, Energie AG has taken a large number of steps to establish and maintain an adequate level of security. However, even the most strenuous effort cannot guarantee absolute security in today’s information and communication technology, meaning that there is always a certain residual risk. As a result, Energie AG has an emergency and crisis management system in place, enabling it to safely restore orderly operation and customer supply as quickly as possible in the event of a failure.
Complaint Management and Surveys
Contact with customers and partners is important for Energie AG to learn about their needs, concerns and ideas. This allows us to solve concrete problems, as well as to adapt and optimise our processes. Complaint management is a key mechanism in this area. Together with Customer Service, we analyse the communications (whether complaints or praise) on a quarterly basis, evaluating the subject areas and using these as a basis to establish options for action. In the past fiscal year, for example, at the suggestion of customers, we refrained from sending payment slips to electricity and natural gas customers without a SEPA direct debit mandate. Furthermore, we have stopped requiring multiple meter reading slips to be sent to us by post in the electricity and natural gas sectors.
Public opinion research institutes regularly conduct surveys of the general population, customers and specific target groups. For instance, in the 2017/2018 fiscal year, the public was asked which products they consider appealing. In partnership with Market, an Austrian opinion research institute, the challenges and future-related issues facing local authorities in Upper Austria were identified in the 2018 Mayors’ Poll. The activities of individual company divisions can be realigned based on this information and suitable products can be developed.
Relatively strong customer loyalty is evident in the electricity sector. 63% of customers are generally very satisfied and 34% are quite satisfied with our sales arm, Energie AG Vertrieb GmbH & Co KG. Measuring loyalty levels in set categories (e.g. product range, price communication, homepage, regional commitment) provides detail that allows us to find sensible places to start improving services for our customers.
Customer satisfaction surveys are carried out at all the Waste Management Segment’s sites. These include a school marking-style assessment system, in which the Segment received a 1.4 (equivalent to an “A”) during the period under review (2017/2018).