Trust in energy suppliers during the COVID-19 crisis is strong, especially amongst some of the most vulnerable currently in our society. According to PwC research, 82% of those aged over 65 years trust that their supplier will provide support if needed.
Overall, the consumer survey of 1000 people across the UK, points to levels of trust being robust during the pandemic, with 67% of respondents stating that they trusted their supplier will provide support if needed. However, boosting communication with consumers is critical to increasing this further.
The energy industry is focussed on “keeping the lights on” despite the disruption to working patterns. It has also acted quickly to place consumer protection at the heart of decision making. As early as mid-March, before the government announced any specific energy related support, a number of suppliers reassured customers that anyone facing financial hardship would be supported in various ways. Other initiatives have followed since, such as suppliers setting up hardship funds specifically for those struggling with COVID-19 related pressures.
These actions appear to be positively impacting public trust in energy suppliers. Before the pandemic changed the way we live and work, a BEIS sentiment tracker, conducted last year, put general levels of trust in energy suppliers at 41%. However, when we asked specifically about energy suppliers’ actions through the COVID-19 crisis, 67% say they trust their supplier will support them.
Despite the strong level of trust, more than one third of respondents to the PwC survey state that they haven’t seen any communications from their supplier relating to COVID-19, creating a possible void for customer worries to grow in an unsettling time.
Maximising contact through all available channels during the crisis is critical. Of those that had received some form of communications, 75% said they had found them reassuring. This reinforces the energy suppliers’ need to ramp up the rate of reaching out to customers while the pandemic unfolds.
Steve Jennings, Leader of Industry, Energy at PwC UK, said:
“Like all parts of our economy, utilities are facing huge pressures at the moment. Building and retaining trust is a vital component in business, rooted in honesty, fairness and open communication, so it’s great to see such positive results in our latest energy supplier research. “It’s also heartening to see that the public understands and appreciates all the effort energy firms and their workforces are putting in everyday to protect the supply, and that there is a range of support on offer for those that need it most”.
1 Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker
Notes to editors:
About the survey: Carried out by PwC Research with Quantibus, 1000 people from across the UK were surveyed between 3-5 April.
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