Credibility and customer satisfaction
In 2012, the issue of electricity prices gained a much higher profile compared with 2011. The debate in Germany has focused on how the additional costs for expansion of renewables can be financed while providing for socially acceptable conditions.
The readiness of customers in Germany to switch suppliers declined in 2012. We are offering new products like Smart Home in combination with electricity supply contracts to attract new customers. The issue of energy management continues to gain increasing importance. Almost three quarters of residential customers would like to receive their energy supply, energy advice and energy management from a single source. Our regional companies are offering energy controlling systems, initially for business customers.
Competition continues to increase in the UK market, with small suppliers growing their share of the market during 2012. The latest Customer Satisfaction survey for domestic customers released by consumer champion ‘Which?’ showed a drop of 2 percentage points in the score of RWE npower to 39 %. All the Big Six major suppliers in the United Kingdom are at the lower end of the energy table with RWE npower at the bottom. However, RWE is implementing a new internal programme to deliver changes across the business. The goal is to become number one in customer satisfaction by 2015.
Whilst complaints from domestic customers increased in 2012, our £200 million (€246 million) investment programme in frontline customer service is well under way, with the aim of helping to answer customer queries quicker and more effectively, and we hope to see complaints levels reduce as the new programme comes to fruition.
RWE npower’s Customer Stakeholder Council continues to meet twice a year with representatives from a wide range of consumer protection organisations. The Customer Stakeholder Council discussed issues ranging from our customer transformation programme, starting with our investment programme in customer satisfaction, to the impacts of the Retail Market Review involving proposals by the regulator on reform of the customer market.
Central and Eastern Europe
RWE continues to have a good reputation in Central and Eastern Europe. People in these countries associate us with security of supply and efficiency as a major private company. In the countries where energy prices are set by national regulators, competition is confined to service packages. This situation indeed makes the status of customer satisfaction all the more critical for the success of our business.
In Poland, the number of our customers has increased slightly by 1.2 % compared with 2011.
We collect data on a regular basis to assess the satisfaction of our customers in Hungary. The surveyed data relates to a number of issues including service quality, billing, complaints management and the information policy of the company. These data serve as starting points for improvements. We also established a loyalty programme in 2012. Customers who pay their bills regularly each month receive vouchers with special offers for products and services.
In 2012, the Mátra power station received the ‘Super Brand’ award for the fourth time. Mátra and the sales companies ELMŰ and ÉMÁSZ were awarded the title of ‘Hungarian Brand’ for good products and customer services.
As a large energy company, we have an obligation to the antitrust authorities, other government agencies and the general public to demonstrate our commitment to fair market conduct. This is why we launched our transparency offensive as early as 2008. All market data relevant to electricity generation and to the availability of our power stations are published promptly. The transparency offensive meanwhile covers our electricity production in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as from renewable energies. This is how we ensure that all market players have access to the same information. Investigations carried out by the antitrust authorities in 2012 revealed no evidence of manipulation in the market by RWE.
On 23 August 2012, the Federal Antitrust Office announced in its closing report for the year that it was instituting a price abuse proceeding to investigate the district-heating sector against utilities unknown at the time. The proceeding commenced on 6 March 2013 against energy utilities including RWE Energiedienstleistungen GmbH. The outcome of the proceeding is not yet known.