Partner relations with customers are a vital element of the energy transition. To this end, PGE Group is developing professional energy services and integrated contact and sales channels.
PGE Obrót, which sells electricity within PGE Group, in 2021 provided services to nearly 5.5 million customers, who purchased over 37 TWh of electricity from the company. PGE Dystrybucja, a company licensed to distribute electricity and providing electricity supply services within PGE Group, supplied nearly 38 TWh of electricity in 2021 over an area of 122 400 km2 (nearly 40% of Poland’s area), connecting to the grid nearly 83 000 customers and over 141 000 prosumer installations.
District heating is produced and supplied by PGE Energia Ciepła – Poland’s largest producer of electricity and heat generated in a high-efficiency cogeneration process. PGE EC operates 16 cogeneration plants (with a heat capacity of 6.8 GWt and electrical capacity of 2.6 GWe) and 677 km of district heating networks. The company produces and supplies heat to large Polish cities, including: Kraków, Gdańsk, Gdynia, Wrocław, Rzeszów, Lublin, Bydgoszcz, Kielce and Szczecin. The company is also present in Toruń, Zielona Góra, Gorzów Wielkopolski, Zgierz, Siechnice and Gryfino, where it also distributes heat to end customers. It has an approx. 25% share in the domestic market for heat from cogeneration.
Policies and standards
The high quality of customer service and services is defined in PGE Group’s business strategy and in its consistently implemented policies and management standards, such as the Code of Good Practice for Distribution System Operators, Service Quality Guide and Customer Service Procedures. These documents precisely describe processes related to sales, after-sales service, electricity connections and other distribution issues.
Our customer service standards emphasise the speed, quality and comprehensiveness of service. All customer enquiries are processed within 14 days (in the case of additional analysis and investigation – up to 30 days), and each submission is analysed and used to improve service processes. Application of the adopted standards is systematically monitored and reported. For example, complaints submitted by customers are analysed. Conclusions from these analyses often constitute grounds for introducing changes in internal processes, thanks to which service standards are continuously improved. Marketing surveys are also carried out periodically, which allows for multidimensional monitoring of customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction is monitored by a marketing research system implemented since 2015, covering key areas and contact points for the company-customer relationship. Multidimensional monitoring of customer satisfaction makes it possible to verify the application of adopted standards. Conclusions from the surveys and analyses provide grounds for changes in internal processes, contributing to the continuous improvement of the service standards. One of the effects of the analyses was the introduction in 2021 of the possibility to report failures via a smartphone application.
Customer satisfaction indicators
The two-year-long pandemic and issues related to electricity prices have had a major impact on the manner in which customers are served, and create ever new challenges for consultants and managers. Thanks to their joint efforts, competence and commitment, the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) for the work of PGE Obrót’s customer service offices remained at a high level in 2021, both among G tariff and C1 tariff customers.
The Contact Centre, which performs remote service tasks, also maintained a high level of customer satisfaction. The CSI in customer surveys for 2021 was close to 91%.
Thanks to its high service standards, PGE Obrót has obtained the Customer Friendly Company certificate for the ninth time. Its award is preceded by a quality inspection conducted by independent auditors. In this survey, in 2021 PGE Obrót achieved a score of 89%.
Survey results for certification: Customer Friendly Company:
|Willingness to recommend||91%|
|Approach to customers||88%|
|Customer Effort Score||84%|
|Quality of service||92%|
The results of the independent survey confirm that the quality of customer service was maintained at a high level of approx. 90% to date. The final result was influenced by the Customer Effort Score (CES). Its result is related to service conditions during the pandemic, which independently of the company affected the service process (requirements to wear masks, customer limits at service points, etc.).
PGE Obrót also once again passed an audit carried out by the Association of Energy Trading with regard to customer service, in accordance with the Code of Good Practices.
Satisfaction with electricity supply services
The issue of how electricity is supplied is crucial for customer satisfaction levels. This is why PGE Dystrybucja has been monitoring customer satisfaction with its services for six years. This analysis covers the connection process and contact with the emergency call centre. PGE’s customers declare high satisfaction rates with regard to contact with the 991 emergency number. The Consumer Satisfaction Index (CSI) reached almost 90%.
Satisfaction with PGE Energia Ciepła customer service
In 2021, customer service satisfaction surveys were conducted at PGE Toruń and the Zielona Góra CHP. The surveys made it possible to identify customers’ priority needs with regard to service, enabling improvements to be made in line with their expectations.
Customer service during the pandemic
The main challenge in 2021 was ensuring the continuity of customer service in a pandemic situation. Customer service at PGE Obrót’s customer service points and PGE Dystrybucja’s distribution customer service points was carried out in a sanitary regime, with the provision of screens separating employees from customers at service stations, disinfectant fluids, masks and gloves. Employees were additionally equipped with visors.
The development of customer contact channels is a key element of PGE Group’s strategy. Their integration as well as the enhancement and unification of service standards will be the foundation for further development of the retail area, focusing on ensuring energy and heat comfort for customers. Further initiatives launched in this area will serve this purpose.
PGE Obrót introduced a number of customer service improvements in 2021.
A Virtual Agent robot technology was deployed in June 2021 for PGE Obrót’s hotline, supporting the voice communication channel in the area of payments, which accounts for approx. 60% of all calls to the Contact Center. The development of the technology will translate into greater efficiency of service through the hotline.
The purchase of codes for prepayment meters was simplified in 2021. The process has been automated. It is currently performed through submissions in online customer service, e-forms available on thepge-obrot.pl website and automatically through the IVR system (Interactive Voice Response) on the PGE Obrót hotline.
The e-form available on pge-obrot.pl has been expanded. It now allows all the necessary data and documents to be collected in order to prepare and submit the contract to the customer for signature, which shortened the time and formalities related to its conclusion.
In 2021, the popularisation of the previously implemented process of remote contract conclusion using a secure digital signature continued. To the previously promoted possibilities of signing documents using: trusted profile (free service made available through ePUAP), Qualified Signature (commercial service), eDO App for holders of ID cards with an electronic layer. The possibility to conclude a contract with the use of the Autenti signature has been added. This platform allows to display the content of the contract and sign it digitally. In order to sign the contract, the customer only needs to have an e-mail address and a mobile phone number.
Digital solutions reduce the circulation of traditional documents and costs associated with sending and archiving documents. They also fit in with customers’ expectations of simplified service. At the end of 2021, around 80% of contracts in remote channels were concluded using digital signatures, including Autenti.
The benefits for customers of using electronic purchasing channels include time savings, the ability to place an order at any hour, and not having to wait for payments to be booked.
Initiatives undertaken by PGE Dystrybucja
2021 also brought major changes to customer service at PGE Dystrybucja. A smartphone application was deployed (available for Android and IOS systems), allowing customers to report failures without having to call the 991 emergency number. The app also allows customers to view the status of failure removal. At the same time, if PGE Dystrybucja receives a report of a failure involving the customer’s point of consumption, the application informs customers of this fact and of the lack of the need to call 991.
The process of connecting new electricity consumers to PGE Dystrybucja’s grid is available through the New Customer Portal, thanks to which paper use has been significantly reduced, as almost all formalities are carried out electronically. The New Customer Portal was expanded in 2021 to handle new customer groups, applications for micro-installations and updating the data of an existing micro-installation.
Telephone service at PGE Dystrybucja has also changed. Instead of approx. 200 telephone numbers to individual divisions in Energy Regions, a single number was introduced to serve customers in a given branch. The current seven customer service numbers will eventually be combined into a single number handled by the future PGE Dystrybucja Contact Center.
Customer service in district heating
Thanks to IT systems developed over the years, district heating companies and branches belonging to PGE Energia Ciepła were able to remotely manage the operation of district heating networks, receive and record customer requests and provide comprehensive customer service remotely during the 2020 and 2021 pandemic.
An important system that is used to provide services to customers of PGE Toruń, Zielona Góra CHP and Gorzów Wielkopolski CHP is telemetry, which allows for the remote monitoring of the operation of nodes and receiving installations. The telemetry system also provides information on the location of disturbances in the operation of the network and nodes, so it is possible to react remotely and quickly, even before the disturbance is noticed by the customer.
2021 is the fourth year of operation and development at the Zielona Góra CHP of a system for remote supervision of alarm installations of pre-insulated networks. It allows efficient and fast identification of faults on new networks / connections. Data from alarm system readings is automatically sent to a server via GSM or LAN so that it is possible to monitor the condition of the heating network in real time and obtain information on the occurrence of an alarm. During the period of the system’s operation, approx. 20 events related to damage to heating networks were located and removed. The RATMON system currently supports 129 devices located in chambers and rooms of heat substations. Since 2020, a similar system has also been gradually developed by PGE Toruń, where it covered 18 alarm loops by the end of 2021.
Given the fact that the systems are remote, CHP employees can access them from any place and any device (e.g. phone, tablet) with an Internet connection. With such technological solutions in the period of the pandemic, the unchanging and optimal operation of heat distribution networks was and is ensured on the one hand, high quality of customer service is maintained, and on the other hand the safety of employees is preserved.
Responsibility to customers
Guided by responsibility to its customers, PGE Group draws attention to controversial and often dishonest practices of certain energy vendors who often impersonate proven and reliable brands such as PGE. In order to counteract these phenomena, PGE Group conducts numerous educational and information campaigns in traditional and social media. It also cooperates on an on-going basis with administrative authorities to uncover and eliminate such market practices.
Serving people with disabilities is one of PGE Group’s priorities. Over ¾ of PGE Obrót’s locations are equipped with ramps for wheelchairs or are located on the ground floor, which facilitates accessibility for customers. This is also supported by appropriate operating standards, including those concerning service priority. During the pandemic period, Quality Ambassadors (persons assisting customers at the customer service office with filling in and initial verification of documents), due to the smaller number of customer visits, supported the work of the Contact Center. The positions of Quality Ambassadors in customer service officers are being systematically restored. All customer service offices at PGE Obrót are also equipped with magnifying glasses for the elderly and visually impaired.
Encouraging pro-social and pro-environmental activities
More than one million PGE Obrót customers have already opted for electronic invoices instead of paper ones. This is the result of the company’s educational and information activities, which strengthen the conscious and ecological choices of consumers. Throughout 2021, the company undertook various activities to encourage the use of electronic invoices, including advertising spots: „Tap the keyboard and take care of the environment” www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkLAV2dTTW4
In August 2021, PGE Obrót launched an additional charity action. For each customer who decides to switch to electronic invoices, the company will support – through the PGE Foundation – the activity of carers in the children’s hospice run by the Gajusz Foundation. SMS campaigns were also implemented to inform about the possibility of changing the way of receiving invoices from paper to electronic. Recipients who opted for such a solution could count on special discounts in PGE’s online store.
PGE Obrót is continuously improving the process of switching to electronic invoicing. Aside from traditional methods, such as filling in a consent form or activating service during a visit to a customer service office, the company has also provided a special online form. The solution offered by PGE Obrót is an expression of concern for the natural environment by reducing paper.
It also increases the level of customer service comfort as the invoice is always available to the customer after logging in to PGE’s online customer service site (ebok.gkpge.pl). PGE’s electronic invoicing also saves time as the document is delivered to the customer the moment it is issued. Security is another important aspect. Electronic invoices in online systems are protected with a password set by the customer.
PGE Energia Ciepła supports the process of connecting customers to the municipal heating network and develops services to increase energy efficiency. Within the framework of the existing Agreement on Sustainability between PGE Energia Ciepła, OPEC Sp. z o.o. and the Municipality of Kosakowo near Gdynia, a workshop on energy efficiency was organised for the employees of the municipality office and teachers. The aim of the meeting was to present practical advice on how to save heat and electricity, how to deal with possible heat losses in homes, and what habits regarding the use of electricity can be beneficial to the household budget and the environment. 2021 saw the 6th seminar for administrators and managers of Gdynia’s properties. This aims to raise awareness of environmentally friendly and safe heat from the district heating network. Similar meetings with property administrators and housing associations were also held in Toruń, Kraków, Zielona Góra and other branches of PGE Energia Ciepła.
On the occasion of Earth Day, tree seedlings were distributed among customers who visited Distribution Customer Service Points on April 22 and 23 to be planted in their gardens or on their land. Over two days, 5 000 seedlings were distributed.
Photovoltaics with PGE
Photovoltaics with PGE is an offering for customers to switch to their own energy. PGE Obrót handles their investment comprehensively, from free valuation and technical audit, submitting an offer prepared by PGE Obrót experts and optimally adjusted to the customers’ needs, to professional assembly of the photovoltaic installation. The Photovoltaics with PGE deal includes expert advice and service to customers at every stage of the investment. Providing customers with broad access to green energy is one of the main tasks in the retail area of PGE Group’s strategy.
In order to take advantage of the Photovoltaics with PGE deal, the customer just needs to complete an electronic form and specify the energy needs and installation possibilities. Sales managers then contact customers to carry out further formalities. The installations use best-in-class components and the operation of the installation does not require additional work.
Photovoltaics with PGE was on offer since the introduction of the pilot in the agency model, i.e. from May 2021 to February 15, 2022:
|Number of PV units covered by the offering||kWp|
Heat pumps from PGE
The “Heat Pumps from PGE” offering available already in 2022 expands its range of environmentally friendly PRO EKO products. In addition to PV installations, customers can now benefit from heat pumps.
The „Heat Pumps from PGE” offering is addressed to individual customers who are interested in installing a heat pump in their home and are planning such an investment. As part of the offering, customers receive a comprehensive package of services, such as advice on selecting the right device, sales and professional installation.
A major advantage of heat pumps is the savings that result from the low running costs of these units and their efficient use of energy.
The heat pumps offered by PGE are efficient and environmentally friendly. Thanks to the appropriate adjustment, the device is completely hustle-free. Heat pumps within the „Heat Pumps from PGE” offering use energy from the air to heat or cool rooms in the house, or to heat domestic hot water. They require electricity to operate. Combining them with a PV micro-installation not only reduces heating costs to a minimum but also increases the use of electricity produced by the PV installation for your own needs.
Dynamic growth in the number of prosumers
The significant increase in interest in micro-installations is associated with increased workload at the Distribution Customer Service Points. In 2021, PGE Dystrybucja registered 157 000 micro-installations, including more than 99% of photovoltaic installations that were processed in the „based on notification” mode and did not require obtaining connection conditions. PGE Dystrybucja employees showed great commitment in serving a larger number of customers interested in prosumer installations than ever before. On many occasions they provided substantive advice on the capacity of the installed devices, verifying the customer’s needs in accordance with the existing consumption.
In the Łódź branch, the „active prosumer” project is being carried out in cooperation with the Technical University of Łódź, Lublin University of Technology and Apator. A solution is being developed that will allow to increase the number of micro-installations in a specific area without disturbing grid operations. The project assumes that the results of the work of the project consortium will also influence the legislative processes concerning the prosumer market in Poland.