Getting through to business
Microbusinesses are the smallest companies, with fewer than 10 employees and low energy usage. Many are considered to be disengaged - including limited communication with their existing energy supplier. These businesses face challenges in understanding the market and engaging with their supplier.
Communications from suppliers are one way to help microbusinesses engage - and become especially important where businesses are in debt and at risk of disconnection. This is an area where we see particular detriment for microbusinesses contacting our energy advice services.
We commissioned Collaborate Research to conduct qualitative interviews with 40 people who made decisions about energy at microbusinesses. 10 of these were businesses who were struggling to pay and had a recent experience of being in debt. The researchers discussed communications with the respondents and used examples of different communications to understand how these could be improved.
This research explores how effective existing supplier practices are by focussing on how microbusinesses use and respond to the communication the receive. We identify key areas where improvements can be made to increase engagement.
What microbusinesses need from their supplier
- The research suggests some key areas where improvements can be made to communications.
- Provide more information on bills, such as annual usage data and tariff comparisons.
- Improve communication around debt, with appropriate and clear steps on a way forward.
- Provide more information about advice and support services, through effective signposting on communications.
Wider changes could improve outcomes
- In isolation, changes to existing communications are unlikely to be transformative. Further steps should include:
- Trials of different communication options, similar to those Ofgem has conducted with domestic consumers.
- Improved information for microbusinesses of the benefits of smart meters and providing access to smart meter data.
- Providing microbusinesses with easier ways to compare deals using current price and usage data.