Energy Consultancies: Raising the Quality Benchmark
By Zen Family Member, Gill Greaves
Quality assurance (QA) is the systematic process of determining whether products meet customers’ expectations.
When the energy market deregulated in the 1980s there was an inevitable growth in energy brokerages and consultancies. Some of these began as “one-man bands”, others quickly developed into larger businesses. It was a new industry and one that was both unregulated and open to abuse and there have, over the years, been several stories in the press regarding the activities of less than salubrious energy brokers. Unfortunately, such coverage tends to tarnish everyone with the same brush, regardless of their commitment to providing the highest level of service to their customers.
The market for brokerages, as it stands today, remains unregulated but where Zenergi stands out is that we operate as though we are. We hold ourselves to the highest standards and are accountable to our customers.
As with any business, especially one that is growing, there becomes a need to formalise processes to ensure standards are being met. Zenergi has grown rapidly over the last few years, bringing new people, knowledge, skills, data and systems into the organisation.
As an organisation we strive to put the customer at the heart of everything that we do. We reinforced our commitment to our service provision by implementing a dedicated Quality Assurance (QA) team to monitor our processes and to support continuous improvement.
What we do
The QA within Zenergi is tasked to assure that quality is built into our services and processes. As part of that we also work to ensure the right information is in the right place at the right time, and our remit covers several areas within the day-to-day operations of the business:
We undertake regular monthly audits across the main processes that support sales, case management and our invoice validation service. The processes are followed from start to finish and focus on key milestones in the journey to catch any possible issues.
Should issues be found then corrective actions are investigated, implemented (if necessary) and rolled out to the teams. Changes to processes are then reviewed via the audit process to ensure they are working as anticipated.
Zenergi prides itself on providing a trouble-free service to our clients but, of course issues, do arise from time to time. QA implemented a Risk Alert system that monitors daily any issues that are considered a risk to the client, such as incorrect invoices. These are escalated and followed to resolution to ensure any risks are minimised or removed entirely.
At the end of 2021 we had a portfolio of 28,349 live meters, had resolved 11,210 cases and had validated over a quarter of a million customer invoices. In order to efficiently service this portfolio our data has to be optimal. The QA team, along with others within Zenergi, work continually to monitor integrity and to make sure that our information is accurate and timely. Data audits are undertaken to systematically review integrity and quality levels.
QA recently welcomed a dedicated Process Improvement Manager to our team. This role will centralise and manage all process change requests, undertake impact assessments, and roll out any process changes, with accompanying training, to the organisation. Legislative or regulatory changes in the industry are monitored and reflected in our processes and audits as required.
Providing energy-related services to clients can be a complicated and time-consuming affair when in a stable market. In a volatile market, such as we find ourselves in currently, where prices can change minute by minute and with the ongoing pandemic impacting energy users of every level, robust processes and data are fundamental to servicing their requirements.
Zenergi’s purpose is to “Delight our Customers” and our teams understand that QA is there to support them in delivering on our promises. As we go into 2022, we hope to explore additional quality initiatives and to continue to refine our processes to maintain the high levels of service of which Zenergi can be rightly proud.
Bio: Gill Greaves is the Quality Assurance Team Leader at Zenergi. Quality has formed part of Gill’s role since 2016 when working for Power Direct, and this has broadened in scope since becoming part of the Zenergi family. She is currently working, along with her team, to implement further quality initiatives and process improvements across the operational team and the wider business.