The Utilities sector is the worst rated of all, which is mainly due to low scores in the Integrity and Expectations pillars. No brands in the sector featured in the Top 100; the best sector representative, Innogy, came 109th.
The poor assessment of the Integrity pillar means that customers do not trust utility companies very much. This is a relic of the past, when they were using hard selling and coercive practices in customer retention. However, because of normative changes, such as codes of practice and amendments to the Energy Act, the situation is different today, and everything suggests that the sector’s reputation should improve.
A similar turnaround should take place with the Expectations pillar: unethical business practice in the past has meant unrealistic prices and savings, ultimately not fulfilling customer expectations. Today, utility companies realize that if they act fairly and offer customers tangible savings, such clients will look on them much more favourably.
The third pillar that companies are focusing on today is Time and Effort. Utility companies realize that they do not have optimally arranged processes and channels, and that simplifying them could save them money and ensure a better customer experience.
In an extremely competitive and price-sensitive market, there are few ways for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors and boost client retention naturally. This contributes to the development of an energy industry sub-sector. Utility companies are no longer confined to trading “their” commodity or to selling a secondary commodity to existing clients (typically electricity-gas and vice versa) but providing servicing, solar panel installations, boiler maintenance, and more. Some companies are going further and devising innovative solutions, either for their customers or for the public (virtual batteries for owners of solar panels, from E.ON, or construction of charging stations for electric vehicles, which E.ON, ČEZ and PRE, for example, are investing in).
The Older Generation is most satisfied with utility companies, although energy costs among members of this age group make up a large part of the family budget. Generation Z regards Innogy as the second worst. Centropol recorded the highest score with it; conversely, the postwar generation and Generation 49 X rated the company very negatively. There are small generational differences at E.ON: all age groups evaluate it largely positively. As with other sectors, Generation Z gives all brands a very low score (values around 5 and 6) and the Older Generation very high values.
In the near future, the energy market will face several changes in line with current trends. These are, for example, electromobility and a significant movement towards decentralization of production, which presents utility companies with opportunities to provide additional energy services, consultancy services, and solar panel installation. Along with changing business models, this transformation can also be an opportunity to improve customer experience.
“Innogy is my current energy supplier. My experience of it has been positive, the price is good, and I can get a good price when combining several products.” (Innogy, Older Generation)
“We were changing the circuit breaker. They sent us the form we required by e-mail. So, all we had to do was print it, fill it in, scan it and send it back. They sorted out everything else. I’m satisfied.” (Centropol, Generation Y)
“I’m a long-term customer of this company and am very happy. Especially with a great online centre, where I can sort out everything I need from the comfort of my own home. The energy prices are also quite affordable. They’ll get more expensive, but that will happen everywhere. I don’t quite understand how people can shout and swear at them.” (ČEZ, Generation X)