Experts note that market liberalization has opened up new opportunities for consumers, but has also brought considerable confusion. Why have there been so many misunderstandings and what can we all – both consumers and suppliers – learn in the second stage, when a supplier is chosen by a large proportion of households – consuming between 1000 kWh and 5000 kWh per year?
A liberalized market is a new experience for both suppliers and consumers
Although in the public sphere the first stage of choosing an electricity supplier is considered successful – the contract with independent suppliers amounted to almost 90% by the end of last year. There was no shortage of challenges for Phase I consumers, either for suppliers facing such flows of private customers for the first time, or for consumers who generally had to choose for the first time from whom to buy electricity.
“The transformation in the electricity supply market, from the perspective of both consumers and suppliers, has caused considerable confusion in the market. We feel that despite the rich information background, the consumer is still poorly informed, he has many questions – from the deadlines for choosing a supplier to who will handle the faults, what will happen if he does not make a decision about the supplier, and so on.
Suppliers also face challenges. Their most difficult task is not only to inform about the new service, but also to manage the flow of customers by maintaining a high quality service cartel and really help the slightly confused consumer to maneuver between his company’s interests and the consumer’s basic and to evaluate the alternatives on the market, ”says Artūras Meškelė, the head of the Mano Planas company, which manages the Markestro brand and has gathered several electricity suppliers under one roof.
A wave of dissatisfaction erupted due to a lack of focus on education
Currently, electricity is supplied to private consumers in Lithuania by 7 independent suppliers. For some of them, such private customer flow management, consulting and sales experience is new. According to A. Meškelė, the tension also arose due to other nuances. Under today’s regulation, electricity suppliers have the right to make offers to anyone who hasn’t indicated they don’t want to receive them, so a person can get a call from all 7 different suppliers.
“When you receive 7 calls for proposals and hear few answers to other questions that concern you, such as whose lowest price, why the prices differ, what the electricity price itself is, how it may change in the future, etc., start a relationship with the new electricity company. the supplier is not at the highest quality level. This leads to further suspicion and later greater dissatisfaction if something goes wrong. We are all well acquainted with all this, therefore we work a little differently in serving the customer. First of all, we first train both our employees and external partners – call center specialists, we provide knowledge about the situation in the market and changes in it. It is, in a sense, becoming information centers for the transformation of this market. This allows the client to feel confident in their choice, to clearly understand what and why they chose, ”says A.Meškelė.
Addressing your questions where you can get answers will save you time and nerves
A. Meškėlė says to the residents planning to choose an electricity supplier: “My advice is simple – if you want to get answers to all your questions – look for those whose job it is to provide them, and not just represent the interests of your company. If you don’t want to waste time communicating with 7 suppliers and comparing offers at the same time – look for someone who will help you do it. In this way, you will decide to be better informed, and there will be no disappointment without receiving answers from suppliers, ”says the head of the company. According to him, this will not only make consumers happier, but also electricity suppliers – there will be no misunderstandings that should be explained in the media.
The experience of counseling was useful – one challenge was less
Before entering the electricity market, Markestro mediated in the selection of Internet and television services for 5 years. The head of the company notes that the confusion of consumers when choosing from different suppliers is typical in various areas, and when faced with the choice of electricity suppliers for the first time, there is really something to look into.
“A person does not choose the Internet or television or electricity suppliers on a daily basis, so it is no wonder that without special interest in the market there can be a lot of uncertainties, and it is important for the consumer to get answers clearly, quickly and in a focused way. In this case, both the electricity suppliers and we faced similar challenges – we had to introduce a new product, manage the flows.
Of course, we prepared accordingly – we planned consultation scenarios, implemented quality standards, increased the ranks of partners that would help serve the growing customer flow, and automated processes. And since we had already gone through all these stages with other products, the experience allowed us to learn from our own mistakes and not repeat them again. Today, we are implementing 3 levels of service control, which consists of quality control mechanisms in the hands of partners, automated quality assessment and its management in the hands of the quality manager, ”notes A.Meškelė.
Is only price important when choosing a supplier?
Electricity suppliers point out that the price per kilowatt-hour should not be the sole criterion for choosing a supplier.
“The price per kilowatt-hour is undoubtedly one of the most important criteria when choosing a supplier, but just like when evaluating different offers of telecommunications services or banks, it is very important to pay attention to all possible” stars “and additional conditions and evaluate the benefits. Generally speaking, it is first and foremost important for consumers to calculate how much energy their household consumes per month, to assess at what time of day the electricity demand in their home is greatest, and to choose a specific energy supply plan accordingly. In addition, flexibility is often important for consumers, the possibility to terminate the contract at any time or – to buy electricity at the current market price, ”notes Vytenis Koryzna, CEO of Enefit.
According to him, in addition to tariff rates, contract conditions or possible additional fees, it is no less important to evaluate the additional services and values provided by the supplier. For example, in the first phase, more than 25,000 consumers who chose Enefit electricity also secured access to green energy from local renewable sources in their homes, thus contributing to the fight against the cost of climate change.
Advises not to postpone the choice for the last night and to ask boldly
The head of the Markestro predicts that last year’s scenario may also be repeated this year, when a rapid increase in the number of electricity consumers wishing to sign a contract with suppliers was observed already at the end of the first stage of market liberalization.
“Therefore, we advise our customers to start thinking about the electricity supplier as early as possible and choose not to stay for the last day. Due to the growing demand for energy, more expensive emission permits and other nuances, we also observe a fairly consistent rise in the price of electricity, so it is often financially worthwhile to make a choice as early as possible. Nevertheless, I would urge people not to make a hasty decision, to boldly ask all the questions that concern them and to choose only with a good understanding of why and what they choose, only in this way can we hope to avoid disappointment in the future. It is the consumer’s right to ask and receive an answer, and if he does not receive it, then it is necessary to ask elsewhere, ”says A.Meškelė. At this stage, consumers will have to choose the electricity supplier by 10 December.
Last year, the company advised more than 40 thousand people on the selection of an electricity supplier. electricity consumers. According to the manager, the decisions made this year and the ongoing preparations will allow up to 600 thousand to do so. consumers.