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NEWS: Can we help you respond to the impact of COVID-19?

Written by

Andrew McKinney, Customer Consultant

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We're all in this together. How can we help you remain resilient for your customers?

In the wake of new measures to tackle COVID-19, there will be large impacts on energy suppliers as customers change their consumption habits, business customers pause operations and many residential customers enter fuel poverty (as set out in this recent article by Sarah Smith).

Here at ENSEK, we want to do all we can to help you and your customers get through this difficult period. We have a pool of industry experts; operational analysts, industry accountants, infrastructure experts, consultants, MI and data analysts. We have already had requests for help and changes, which we are facilitating as quickly as possible.

How we can support you

Payments

Domestic Energy customers have already started to request payment holidays and cancel DDs, and businesses which have closed are working on their cash flow plans for the next few months.

PPM customers are finding topping up more challenging, especially where underlying health issues and vulnerability are present and weekly routines have been changed.

Many energy suppliers do not have the experience of offering payment holidays or allowing customers to pay at different frequencies to manage their cash flow.

ENSEK can help you to support your customers at this time in the following ways:

  • Vulnerable customer protection and journeys – identification of vulnerability, use of the PSR and development of tailored processes / journeys are even more key now than in a business as usual environment, and we have broad experience of managing customer vulnerability.
  • Payment adequacy analysis (B2C) – there is likely to be a spike in consumption of electricity due to the strict rules about leaving the house, which will take time to flow through to billing through meter reads. Additionally, if suppliers offer payment holidays to their customers, payment adequacy will need to be analysed to provide guidance to customers on the likely impacts for the future. Analysing this and acting accordingly will be critical to short term cash flow.
  • Debtors analysis – some suppliers are already considering the cessation of collections activities, and the impacts of this on cash flow are not well known. Our debt team can review your debt ledger and identify segments based on credit risk to support cash flow modelling, customer communication and credit management focus areas.
  • Customer service agent guidance – agreeing policy rules and documenting/rolling out related agent guidance is essential for handling COVID-19 based payment enquiries. Quick decisions are required about how to support customers, and temporary authorisation levels may be required.

Operations

Operations will be hugely impacted during this period of uncertainty. In addition to managing the fallout associated with the sudden implementation of en-masse remote working, customer engagement is likely to increase and endure over the coming weeks, creating a perfect storm of contact demand pressure.

Back office teams will already be feeling the pinch as they support the front office with increased contact, meaning that certain activities will be understandably sacrificed.

ENSEK can offer the following support:

  • Increased back office support - Many of our clients utilise our back office managed service, but we are offering to expand this in the current environment to include tasks which are currently performed by suppliers. Examples include metering and collections processes which involve customer contact, such as appointment booking and outbound calling to agree payment plans, and account adjustments​ – all of which may have increased importance over the next few months. Our team are ready to take on new tasks to enable your back office to keep on top of their workload and support the front-line staff.
  • Operational insights – our analytics offering has been developed to analyse trends, spot issues before they materialise, and allow suppliers to better understand their customers. We have recently added performance management reporting, including tasks completed by team, by agent and by day, which may be especially useful given the move to remote working. In the short term we want to make this reporting available free of charge to support our clients in this difficult time, wherever we agree it can add value.

Other areas of support

In addition to the areas highlighted above, ENSEK has a team of experienced energy accountants who can provide ad-hoc analytical support to our clients as the impacts of the necessary changes are understood and modelled.

We also have a highly proficient and modern IT team who support our cloud infrastructure, and we are offering to provide their guidance where required in areas such as remote working, connectivity and the provision of temporary assets.

How to request our support

If any of the areas highlighted stand out to you as an area of interest, please contact us via your Account Director, or contact us here. If there is something you think we can help with that isn’t outlined, please speak to us and we will do everything we can to support you during this unprecedented period.

Government support following the impact on suppliers

The impact on suppliers could be existential in these difficult and uncertain times. ENSEK will be lobbying BEIS and Ofgem for support for suppliers, to ensure there is as little negative impact as possible on our sector.

This includes minimising the impact on consumers over the coming months, as situations change daily. If you would like to input into our letter to BEIS and Ofgem please contact Sarah Smith, Head of Consulting and Regulation.

More information on COVID-19 support

Speak to the consultancy team to understand what additional support ENSEK can help you with. We're keen to keep all energy suppliers as resilient as possible in order to offer the UK continuity with energy consumption.