Fostering the intense dialogue with its customers is a cornerstone of the Energie AG Group's activities in Austria. A customer forum that serves the purpose of developing a better understanding for the customers' perspective and integrating that perspective into the development of products and services was launched in November 2019.
Twice a year, 30 customers are invited to discuss current industry developments, ideas and new products with members of the Company's management team. The first two meetings took place at the end of 2019 and at the energy saving trade fair in Wels in March 2020.
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. Energie AG pays particular attention to digital services, which are currently being developed and expanded in various forms.
Digitalisation: a powerful asset
Energie AG places a strong focus on the digitalisation of processes and customer interaction along the entire value chain. The digitalisation measures are intended to provide customers with a flexible, individual and uncomplicated way of getting in touch with the Company.
Subject to the general conditions under data protection law, the key area Data Analytics enables quicker and more efficient decision-making processes. The additional insights gained about the needs of customers are utilised to develop and design products and services. The combination of customer data from the electricity, gas, heat and telecommunication sectors allows the Group to offer a better service “from a single source”.
The sales and communication channels carried out a harmonisation and redevelopment of the customer portal, which in the future will also act as a central hub for business customers to communicate with Energie AG.
Energie AG was one of the first energy suppliers that offered the digital service Alexa Skills to its customers. This service is being continuously developed further as part of the product portfolio.
Customer Phone Service
A fundamental criterion for customer satisfaction is the rapid processing of enquiries received over the phone, which Energie AG handles with the help of customer service staff that has received extensive training and boasts strong communication skills. They are supported by “artificial intelligence” deployed for the automated processing of simple enquiries. Additionally, an intelligent “peak management” allows for calls to be rescheduled to a less busy time of the day. This increases the availability for the customers and in turn also their satisfaction with the Company.
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. With a flexible on-call service model for the customer service employees and a suitable infrastructure (remote work), even unpredictable and high call volumes can be managed.
Introduction and Use of New Technologies
Energie AG is actively committed to introducing and using new technologies with a focus on the customer. 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. The system uses a variety of smart grid functions to achieve improvements in the quality of electricity supply. The entire system (AMIS) is proving successful in real-world applications, regularly delivering availability figures in excess of 99%. More information on smart metering can be found in the Group Management Report, Grid Segment.
Energie AG uses the new smart meter technology for developing new business models. Smart electricity meters are the key component for turning a house 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. This delivers cost savings, lower consumption and greater comfort for the customer.
The Czech water investments have been using smart digital water meters for several years at this point. The “Water Under Control” service was launched on the Czech market in the 2018/2019 fiscal year and has shown highly positive signs. Also see the Group Management Report, Czech Republic Segment.
Customer satisfaction surveys
Contact with customers and partners is important for Energie AG to learn about their needs, concerns and ideas and to use these insights for the development of solutions for specific problems and the optimisation of processes. Complaint management is a key mechanism in this area. Together with Customer Service, the Group analyses the communications on a quarterly basis, evaluating the subject areas and using these as a basis to establish options for action. This includes the cooperation with social services for debt prevention and mitigation of debt-related problems by means of the energy solidarity budget and providing advice on how to reduce energy costs.
Public opinion research institutes are regularly commissioned to conduct market studies and customer surveys among various target groups as a due diligence measure to ensure customer satisfaction. Valuable information for the regular ascertainment of the most important key performance indicators and their development over time was once again collected this way in fiscal year 2019/2020. Current topics of interest are continuously examined and analysed with the aim of optimising the positioning of activities, products and services. In the 2019/2020 fiscal year, this included a survey of trade fair visitors or customers rating the quality of advice provided in the area of telecommunications.
The customers of Vertrieb GmbH (electricity, natural gas and internet) were found to exhibit a predominantly good loyalty: 96.5% of electricity customers, for example, are very satisfied or rather satisfied our sales arm (previous year: 95.3% for electricity). Continually measuring loyalty levels in set categories (e.g. product range, price communication, homepage, regional commitment, ....) have already provided specific focal points that allow the company to start improving services on an ongoing basis.
The customer satisfaction survey conducted by Netz OÖ for operators of natural gas grids in autumn of 2019 once again delivered a very good result. As was the case in the previous year, the highest level of satisfaction was expressed for the availability of the gas supply, followed by the satisfaction for keeping with agreed dates, the performance of works, the technical expertise, and the employees' general prowess. Using a 1 to 5 scale based on Austria’s school marking system, Netz OÖ’s customers gave it excellent ratings for reliability (1.13, previous year 1.16), safety (1.32, previous year 1.21) and quality (1.32, previous year 1.29).
Annual 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 (previous year: 1.4; equivalent to an “A”) also during the reporting period 2019/2020.
Energie AG makes target group-specific information available via a number of different channels. This includes the traditional website of the Group www.energieag.at, the press portal news.energieag.at, the project websites www.wir-denken-an-morgen.at for children and adolescents, www.sportfamilie.at for sport enthusiasts, the blog pages (blog.energieag.at and hochspannungsblog.at), the Facebook page Energie AG – Wir denken an Morgen, the Instagram account energie.ag and the Instagram (energieagsportfamilie) and Facebook (Energie AG-Sportfamilie) accounts of the sports family. These services are complemented by additional websites for specific Energie AG products.
Energie AG offers functional self-service portals (especially in areas of mass customer demand) to meet customer needs and optimise customer service processes. These enable customers to independently deal with a number of tasks and issues relating to supply contracts with Energie AG at any time of day.