Bringing the voice of your customers into your boardroom and working practices

Energy Suppliers Failing Their Vulnerable Customers


The regulators are getting tough on firms who are not treating customers in vulnerable circumstances fairly. After years of work with Treating Customers Fairly the Financial Conduct Authority has set the wheels in motion for Consumer Duty which is tougher and more demanding of firms. Now this morning we see Ofgem calling out how the UK's 17 energy suppliers have failed customers in vulnerable circumstances and all this comes as the UK public are facing the toughest winter in years with the cost-of-living crisis.

In my work with organisations wanting to serve their vulnerable customers better, I've met and trained literally hundreds of people who are striving to make change for the better, yet despite their effort the regulators are not still not happy. Often the biggest challenge teams face is funding for the changes and the improvements they want to make.

So why is the funding not there? With record profits in the energy sector despite the windfall tax, it feels like a weak argument that the funds to change processes, train staff and implement reasonable adjustments aren't available. There are always demands within every business for more budget and I totally get it that there are tough decisions to be made, but it therefore appears to be a decision based on acceptable risk and keeping the shareholders happy.

I can't help feeling that we are standing at a precipice. Unless cultural changes are made by boards and shareholders to make supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances the responsibility of the WHOLE organisation not just frontline teams, I fear we are about to go over the edge and the losses will come from customers and perhaps some of the smaller firms penalised by regulators. The larger ones I think will survive as they have deeper pockets. But surely any money reserved for fines would be better spent investing in doing the right thing and not getting fined?

I wouldn't want the deaths of customers who couldn't afford to heat OR eat on my conscience.

It's time to step up and fast!!

Elaine Lee

Photo: Cristofer Maximilian @Unsplash


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