The end user market proved demanding in 2011. Extended periods of high prices, a strained resource situation over the winter, an increase in the number of price areas in southern Norway, variations in area prices and the establishment of new price areas in Sweden presented new market challenges and resulted in increased complexity and uncertainty.
New products and sales channels
Competition for electricity customers is intense, and companies are dependent on establishing effective sales channels to be able to generate profitable customer growth. For example, in autumn 2011 Norgesenergi entered into a collaboration agreement with Elkjøp to sell power agreements in Elkjøp’s stores in Norway. The scheme was launched in November and has to date fulfilled the parties’ expectations.
Margins on power sales are generally low. Market’s companies therefore actively endeavour to offer relevant and appealing products and subscription-based services to customers to complement ongoing power agreements. Examples of such products and services include Hafslund Strøm’s “Payment Insurance” and Göta Energi’s “Electricity account” schemes.
Energy savings at customers
Hafslund Strøm aims to lead the way in offering customers environmentally friendly energy and energy solutions, and is committed to helping its customers to cut their electricity consumption. In 2011 the company continued measures to help customers save energy at home. This will remain an important focus area in future, including through the energy efficiency tool Hafslund Online for corporate customers.
Demanding time for customer service centre
The market situation in winter 2010/2011, which featured high electricity prices, consumption and bills, saw a sharp rise in the number of referrals to Hafslund Customer Service Centre. The number of referrals in the first quarter of 2011 was 50 percent up on the same quarter the previous year, and up 20 percent on the year as a whole.
At times the influx of enquiries resulted in long waiting periods on the phone, and a delay in responding to written enquiries. Consequently, a number of concrete measures were taken to give customers the opportunity to find answers to enquiries themselves. More long-term plans to reduce incoming enquiries and improve internal processes were also implemented. Despite the high activity levels, current surveys show that customers who contact the customer service centre generally have a positive impression of the centre.
Staff at Haflsund’s Customer Service Centre can help customers in 15 different languages.
New invoicing solution
Hafslund Fakturaservice issues invoices to more than a million end customers. A major system and organisation development programme connected to the change in the company’s core systems for invoicing and metering was launched in 2010. The first phase of the project will be implemented in 2011, with the main delivery taking place in April 2012.
From October 2011 monthly invoicing was introduced for all retail customers with annual consumption of more than 8,000 kWh. This reduced the capital tied up in the invoicing process, and the scheme has been well received by customers.
At the end of 2011, 230,000 customers paid their invoices by electronic bill payment.
Hafslund wishes to reinforce its electronic customer communications and reach more customers through media such as the Internet, e-mail and SMS. The number of users of the self-service portal MyPage rose sharply in 2011.