Guest Blog: npower’s Chris Billing – Supporting the Consultants

The energy sector may not sound very thrilling to those outside the industry, but I can assure you it’s a very exciting place to work. And none more so than […]

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The energy sector may not sound very thrilling to those outside the industry, but I can assure you it’s a very exciting place to work. And none more so than at the moment.

The current climate is certainly full of challenges – increasing energy policy costs, a growing need for energy security, environmental responsibility pressures from the supply chain and consumers, to name a few. It means the way businesses buy and manage energy is having to change. So for those of us supporting customers and the consultants that serve them, innovation and partnership are becoming key drivers.

Roadshows to promote consultant growth
Working in an ever-evolving sector is incredibly stimulating. There’s always something new. Take The Energy Live Consultancy Awards (or TELCAs for short) for example. Last year, we worked with Energy Live News to develop these awards, to showcase and reward best practice among energy consultants and brokers. This year, we’re taking that one step further with a series of regional roadshows, where we’ll be sharing expertise and the latest ‘need-to-know’ industry developments to help consultants grow their businesses. After all, attracting more customers is beneficial to us both.

In a market where different players used to have distinct roles, the boundaries between supplier, consultant and consumer are becoming far more fluid. At npower, our aim is very much to work in partnership with our clients to find smarter ways of solving the current challenges businesses face. And what’s great about working with the third party consultants that often bridge the gap between supplier and consumer, is that they are hungry to provide ever-better and more cost-effective solutions too.

Facilitating move from fixed to flex

Take Budget Optimisation as an example. This product was developed with a major consultancy, as a way for npower to provide market and hedging expertise to aid their transition from fixed to flexible purchasing. We know this is a key area in which many consultants lack time or resources – feedback from our recent Consultant Insight Survey suggests 35% think it’s risky, 33% believe flexible purchasing is only suitable for energy intensives, and 29% think the contracts are difficult to administer.

Easy-to-manage hedging
Taking advantage of a hedging strategy without the effort involved was another request from a leading consultancy. Budget Portfolio is the result, providing an innovative way to secure a rate to match – or even beat – a smaller client’s energy budget. It incorporates some clever behind-the-scenes risk management, but for a consultant, it’s easy to manage. The key criteria is that clients are aggregated into ‘baskets’ with a minimum 6GWh of total volume.

Instant price quotes
A key area of concern for consultants is a solution to the problem of waiting on quotes for new customers. So we have recently launched Fixed Price Matrix, where consultants receive a price each Monday that’s then valid for the whole week. And to ensure that pricing queries and other sales issues are resolved asap, we’ve added 15 new staff to our consultant team. We are also developing new products for the gas market, an area where our business has grown by more than 40% in the past 12 months.

So you can see we’ve been busy – and our work is far from dull.
If you’re a consultant and you’ve not worked with npower before, we’d love to hear from you. And if you happen to be free on 20, 21 or 22 May, come along to the roadshows in Manchester, Birmingham and Reading. It would be good to see you there…