My last blog post concluded by asking whether or not customers have too wide a choice of retailers of water and waste water services. My view is that they will want real choice. This means tailored services, pro-actively offered, that really make non-household customer’s lives easier, especially when there is a growing expectation that suppliers will adopt a ‘green’ approach to service delivery wherever possible.
If the majority of retailers focus on limiting the damage to their bottom line, then by definition only a few may offer the sort of attentive service that really benefits customers (and the environment). There may be less pressure on those that have gained from scale economies (and perhaps added some scope economies by extending the range of products they offer) to continue to be as responsive to customers. They will want to be sure that they do not offer a way back in for their competitors by being much more expensive – even if for more and better services. I am not therefore convinced that they will pursue innovation as resolutely as they might have done were the relative winners and losers amongst retailers still to be decided.
The result is lower bills to customers. But are these bills sustainable in the medium term? And will customers really get the enhanced levels of service which, experience in Scotland suggests, is what they seem to want? It all feels as though we are in danger of getting a mite too close to the price, rather than service, dominated energy markets. For me, at least, this is nowhere close to the best outcome!