World-first Energy Charter launched to win back customer trust

Say watt? 


That’s right, a world-first cross-sector energy industry framework has been established in Australia with the purpose of delivering a better experience for customers. The Energy Charter marks the first time that businesses from all parts of the energy supply chain have come together to commit to a regulatory framework.  


The framework aims to deliver energy in line with community expectations. Inaugural Chair of the CEO Council for the Energy Charter, John Cleland, has stated that the Charter “will demonstrate how we are improving energy affordability; how we are delivering reliable, sustainable and safe energy; and how we are putting the customer at the centre of our business”.  


Seventeen businesses from the energy supply chain have already jumped on board to participate, with more expected to follow. By signing, each of these businesses is pledging to follow the Five Principles (see below).  


Image Source: The Energy Charter


Trust is running thin, particularly after the recent blackouts in Victoria where 200,000 homes lost power (H4). It’s fair to say that the energy sector wants to kick distrust in the butt, and they’re confident that the Energy Charter will help them to do just that.  

With that said, it’s time to get into our own CX analysis of this new prospect.  


Pros

Accountability:

The Charter will ensure that those who have signed the Charter will be held responsible. Those who commit to the Energy Charter are required to agree that they are willing to publicly disclose how they are delivering against the Five Principles, and an independent accountability panel will issue an annual evaluation report based on the participant’s performance. Customers want to see that industry leaders can put their money where their mouth is, and the Charter is a step in the right direction to make this happen. As explained by Ben Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), customers will “be able to compare our performance to other utilities and if we are not delivering, customers will be able to call us out.”

Transparency: 

Because participants will be held openly accountable, this will be a wave of fresh air for customers who are used to being kept in the dark on matters of governance and delivery. Customers will now be able to receive updates about how Charter members are doing in terms of pricing, reliability and renewable sources. It’s about time that industries start opening channels for dialogue and include customers in the conversation. Hopefully the Charter will create opportunities for customers to comment on areas where they would like to see more transparency.  


Consistency

The Charter will align companies to the same principles, meaning that customers can expect to see some consistency across the board in terms of actions and behaviour. The fact that it is a whole-of-sector initiative works to reduce discrepancies, making the customer journey less complicated and confusing. ‘Customer-focused’ can mean very different things to different people, so it makes to sense to have principles that can work across the entire supply chain.    

Questions 

At this point, it’s still early days, however we thought it would be worth flagging a few of our initial questions about the Energy Charter.   

  1. Will there be need for more regular reviews? Although the Charter has stated that an independent accountability panel will issue an annual evaluation report, perhaps there may be a need for a quarterly review as well so that customers are updated on a more regular basis? Some shorter-term goals need to be disclosed to customers so that they don’t have to wait a whole year before noticing an issue.  

  2. How will customer feedback be measured throughout the process? For the Charter to fulfill its aim of creating a customer-centric culture, this will mean regular surveying, interviews and dialogue with customers. How do customers initiate and maintain communication with the Charter? Will the charter initiate this feedback using a certain schedule/ time frame? 


Concluding Thoughts 

While it’s still only early days, we think that the Energy Charter is a great place for the industry to start taking customer experience seriously.  


The fact that a cross-sector initiative has been implemented just goes to show that it really is possible for large industries to make transformative changes.  


Hopefully the Energy Charter will result in a more transparent energy market and start to rebuild customer trust in both energy retailers and providers. At the moment it all sounds great on paper, but ultimately, it’s going to come down to whether the Charter can deliver on what it’s proposing off paper.