In recent years, energy regulator Ofgem has focused heavily on the fair treatment of customers, issuing penalties to companies that do not follow its rules or who make decisions which are not in the interests of customers. As we see increasing criticism from the regulator, that firms need to ensure their policies for customer treatment are rock solid and that their people are fully trained in how to manage and carry out these tasks.
As Ofgem outline in their Standards of Conduct guidance, “suppliers should be continually striving to adopt and embed a consumer-centric culture, and ensure their conduct results in all customers being treated fairly.”
What does this mean?
Essentially, Ofgem have clearly outlined what they consider the ‘broad principles’ of fair customer treatment, which all senior staff within the energy sector should be referring to when training their teams on how to deal with customers. All staff should have an understanding of the standards, whatever their seniority level and be implementing them throughout the way they work.
What should companies be doing to handle this?
It’s crucial to ensure steps have been put in place to cement conduct compliance within your firm. All too often we see companies needing our help after the damage has been done, where a solution comes at a greater cost in time and resources.
To ensure compliance in all areas of fair customer treatment, we recommend managers adopt the following approach:
- Management: Implement a dedicated regulatory management team to keep on top of Ofgem updates and ensure processes are being carried out throughout the organisation.
- Training: Regular update training is important for every customer-facing member of staff in the business to ensure they are aware of any changes to requirements that Ofgem bring in.
- Review: Review your regulatory processes often to check how they are working and that they are still in line with current requirements.
How can companies do this?
Getting these processes in place and in regular use is no small task for any company, and that’s where we come in. We bring our experience in helping energy firms embed a customer-focused culture to ensure they are meeting Ofgem’s expectations and guidelines for fair customer treatment, every time. We also bring award-winning experience of working on similar challenges with banks, insurers and other financial services firms who have been increasingly regulated in these areas over the last decade. Why not learn from their mistakes and good practice?
We can help with:
- Regulatory and risk management advice
- Strangthening operations and business processes
- Rectification and redress if a company has not been compliant historically.
- Training and education for customer facing staff as well as all levels of management.