Fear and Fear Again!
Are you energised by the Europe debate; do the options of Brexit versus status quo form dinner table chat? Importantly do you understand the issues at stake, the benefits and deficits of either decision? Predictably the whole project seems to have become a political football; with either side trying to use fear as a force; fear of staying or fear of going as a persuasive tactic to cast our votes in their direction. Just below the surface is of course a critical issue for now, and generations ahead, but for most of us the real issues are drowned out by political point scoring.
The same fear is employed by many large organisations; in my own case I've often reconsidered iCloud, after reading some negative reviews only to get the dreaded 'by deleting this you will lose everything you own' message. Needless to say aspects of my life are still floating in blissful ignorance in the cloud.
This week's long awaited CMA report into the energy sector concluded that customers are being overcharged by £1.7bn a year in total, and suggested measures to make the market more competitive. A new database of customers who have been paying their provider’s standard tariff for more than three years is being proposed. This database would be available to all utility rivals, 36 in total, who could contact these people – described by the regulator as “disengaged domestic customers” – and offer them a better deal.
Martin Lewis, founder of website Money Saving Expert, said: “The great worry is that people will be bombarded with what feels like spam from so many companies, the message will be drowned out.”
The CMA found that around 70% of customers are on a standard variable tariff and there were “material, persistent gains from switching supplier, tariff and/or payment method” that were being missed out on. If customers did switch, they could be at least £300 a year better off.
This begs the question; why as consumers are we so inert when it comes to getting seemingly guaranteed better deals? Could it be a combination of total confusion about tariffs, topped up with fear about the consequences of switching to the unknown, particularly when it involves basic essentials such as heat and light.
Commentators have pointed out that the advent of smart meters will accelerate progress towards consumers accessing the best deal. So too will the rapid emergence of savvy younger generations who are less loyal and more used to one click changes in all aspects of their lives.
It is tempting to think that today's inertia will be tomorrow's profits however smart organisations understand that there is a race against time to rebuild trust as regulation tightens, intermediaries employ group purchasing power, and of course loyalty and inertia become history.
It is reassuring to see many of the energy companies actively reengaging in building better customer experiences through the growing CCA network; like market share prices there can be a delay factor between performance and price, but at the end of the day actions speak louder than words.
It seems that we all need to become skilled at studying and deciphering our own truth when it comes to political messages or whether to switch banks or utilities; successful organisations will understand this and provide clarity to enable the best choice.
As for the politicians well I wouldn't hold my breath!