Points of View

UK energy suppliers must decide: Will they play the cost game or focus on customer experience and sustainability?

Jul 16, 2019 Josh Matthews


HFS’ Industry Blueprint: Utility Operations 2018 report found that executives’ priorities are split two ways. Thirty percent see growing bottom-line profit as the key business priority, while 23% go for customer experience. Sustainability is also causing a strategy headache—The UK’s traditional energy suppliers may soon be forced to focus their efforts on either all-out cost-leadership, or green energy and good customer service; digital disruptors are bringing an existential threat to those caught in between priorities.



Energy providers in the UK built their empire (dominated by the “big six”) on customer loyalty and a reluctance to switch, before price comparison sites triggered the move towards continuously switching to the best deal currently available. Now the emergence of “auto-switchers” is changing the UK’s energy game. Auto-switching services are independent from energy suppliers—they continually move customers to the cheapest energy tariff which meets their preferences, whether the customer’s preference is solely cost, customer service, or green energy.



Despite the seemingly dominant trend of ethical consumerism, many will always look to cost. As auto-switching sweeps the UK energy market, and algorithms choose customers’ providers for them, executives must decide: Are they the big bad cost-leader? Or are they the friendly, sustainable good guy?

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