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Commercial Policy and Customer Care

The Hera Group set the following commercial objectives for 2006:

  • standardising customer approach systems, on a consistent basis throughout the territory
  • integrating the Modena customers in the commercial strategy
  • commercially exploiting the renewal of the IT systems
  • improving the bill
  • continuing to improve the system for proposing and selling products and services to business customers
  • organising a solid and reliable control system
  • organising commercial planning in compliance with market targets

 

In particular, during the first half of the year, two customer satisfaction surveys were carried out for the second year running, one on the residential market and one on the business market, in order to identify the quality components and processes that have greatest impact on satisfaction and subsequently highlighting the operating priorities of Hera. The perceived quality was gauged on four fundamental services provided by the Group, environmental hygiene, water, gas and electricity, and on the customer contact and management channels.

With regards to the survey on the residential market, the satisfaction assessed was good, standing at the levels of the previous year. Despite the overall satisfaction level being good, some differences were still noted between services, in particular: gas, electricity and water confirmed a good level of satisfaction, where reliability and safety remained points of excellence. The survey provided indications that the frequency and the layout of the bill needed to be improved: billing is now monthly and bi-monthly and a number of new features have been introduced with the aim of improving the predictability of the costs payable by customers. With regards to the bill layout, Hera launched a process for overall improvement to be accomplished by the end of 2007, with the two-fold aim of improving legibility and reducing billing costs.

The business customer satisfaction survey also confirmed an essentially stable level compared with 2005, with the exception of a number of shortfalls due to the changeover of the billing system which between the end of 2005 and the start of 2006 affected these customers. The full coming on stream of the business customer management system which took place towards the end of 2006, led to levels of service in line with forecast objectives.

2006 saw the complete start up of the billing and customer handling information system within the initial perimeter of Hera: Bologna, Ravenna, Forlė-Cesena and Imola areas.
By contrast, in relation to Modena and Ferrara full integration was seen in terms of Group sales policies, front end procedures and customer communications. The changeover to the Group information system is currently underway in the Modena area and is envisaged for Ferrara as well over the next few months.

The commercial pressure of the other operators on the residential gas market was less marked than in 2005: a total of 6,144 contracts were in fact lost, compared with 17,878 in 2005. Initiatives are underway for developing clientele using customer-loyalty programmes in the residential sector: so far, 47,800 have joined the scheme.

The number of customers lost on the business market dropped during the first half of 2006, only to once again rise during the last four months of the year, thereby disclosing a total of 793 contracts lost compared with 573 in 2005.

With regards to the customer handling structures, 2006 featured a number of aspects which had a considerable impact.
Specifically, Hera Group's call centres experienced a rise in the number of telephone calls but, despite this, the service levels improved with respect to 2005: halving of the waiting times, involving an overall timescale of less than 35 seconds and an increase in the percentage of calls handled satisfactorily, 94% vs. 87% in 2005.

With regards to customer satisfaction on this particular access and management channel, it is also highlighted that during 2006 (September-November period) the call centre was subject to inspections by the AEEG (Electricity and Gas Authority) to monitor the quality of service provided and perceived by the customers who contacted Customer Service. The overall Customer Satisfaction index (CSI) of the Hera Comm call centre was higher than the index referring to the entire gas and electricity sector.

With regards to the branches, 2006 saw a reduction in the waiting times of 10% when compared with 2005. This result indicates a significant phenomenon in the analysis by geographical area: a reduction in the waiting times in the areas were the information system was migrated in 2005.

5.8.1 Average waiting time at contact center (secs.)

2004

2005

2006

Bologna complex

273,7

85,9

41,5

Ferrara complex

 

29,6

18,7

Imola complex - (January --> March)

60,0

45,3

24,1

Modena complex

 

 

31,2

Rimini complex

70,7

55,3

33,5

Ravenna complex

22,5

75,9

n.a.

Average

102,9

70,2

34,5

5.8.2 Percentage of calls hadled satisfactorily (%)

2004

2005

2006

Bologna complex

81,0%

87,2%

94,4%

Ferrara complex

 

88,4%

96,7%

Imola complex - (January --> March)

88,1%

91,4%

93,7%

Modena complex

 

 

91,2%

Rimini complex

88,8%

93,1%

94,3%

Ravenna complex

91,3%

79,1%

n.a.

Average

87,6%

87,1%

94,1%

5.8.3 Branch transaction waiting times (mins.)

2004

2005

2006

Hera Bologna

38,1

52,0

33,9

Hera Ferrara

 

32,5

21,2

Hera Forlė-Cesena

35,2

37,4

42,6

Hera Imola-Faenza

30,3

27,2

36,4

Hera Modena

 

 

31,5

Hera Ravenna

30,7

32,9

37,5

Hera Rimini

34,3

42,6

35,6

Average

33,8

39,5

35,8

 

The branch improvement project was launched during 2006, with the aim of achieving greater uniformity of the structures. The transaction (whose conclusion is envisaged in 2007) includes the extension of the opening hours, the consolidation of the operating processes, and the unification of the monitoring systems. The prototype of the new branch layout has been created, availing of the consultancy of a firm of architects specialized in the sector.

The work for the rationalization of the branches throughout the territory also continued.