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In May 2021, the strategic directions of CEZ Group were announced in VISION 2030—Clean Energy of Tomorrow. The directions include the commitments to provide the best energy solutions and highest quality customer experience and to modernize and digitize distribution and retail in Czechia. By 2025, all key customer processes will be available online. We aim to develop effective, economical, and environmentally-friendly energy solutions while fulfilling the Czech energy and climate plan.
CEZ Group serves customers responsibly and provides comprehensive energy advice and services that can be customized to customers’ needs. We offer energy solutions to various individuals and institutions: residential customers, industrial companies, small and medium-sized businesses, municipalities, public and private organizations, hospitals, schools, sports arenas, and companies managing buildings and premises of all types. Our energy solutions reduce energy consumption and improve our customers’ quality of life by using advanced technology for electricity and heat generation, lighting comfort, and mobility.
CEZ Group promotes the Smart City concept, an approach to the management of cities and municipalities, including the field of energy. Our goal is to help cities, towns, and villages decrease their energy consumption and enhance energy efficiency. The use of smart technologies improves the quality of the environment and the quality of life of inhabitants. In the Smart City concept, we support energy management, rooftop photovoltaics installation, implementation of cost-saving projects, smart public lighting, and electromobility.
CEZ Group actively supports market cultivation and education in the fight against unfair practices of door-to-door sellers of electricity and gas. We support stricter legislation, and we help customers fight unfair practices. We evaluate all our sales and marketing practices on the market to meet the highest standards, and we have been perceived as the most trustworthy brand on the market for many years. We have also set benchmarks for ensuring that contracts and terms and conditions are as transparent and fair to customers as possible. Our commercial and contractual conditions are transparent and unambiguous. Our employees receive regular training to offer the most appropriate and customized solutions to our customers while maintaining the highest level of service.
CEZ Group invests billions of Czech crowns into distribution system facilities to ensure a safe and reliable electricity supply. In case of emergency, the new advanced elements allow us to locate the point of failure faster and restore supply sooner. The reliability of the electricity supply and the speed of its restoration in case of failure are key indicators of our customers’ satisfaction.
In mid-2021, ČEZ Distribuce launched the Cooperating Partners program, which establishes cooperation between inspection technicians and energy companies. The program aims to help customers simplify and speed up the entire administration of inspection reports and reduce the error rate in these reports. Inspection technicians have access to the Distribution Portal to verify the technical data of the point of consumption and can confirm inspection reports online. The interest in the program is significant; ČEZ Distribuce currently cooperates with more than 500 inspection technicians.
Based on VISION 2030—Clean Energy of Tomorrow, we aim to provide the best energy solutions and the highest quality customer experience. In our business, we do not forget vulnerable customers, such as people with disabilities and the elderly.
Our product portfolio offers a new electricity and gas tariff for people with disabilities. This tariff comes with a better price and enables priority check-in at customer care centers and on the hotline. To sign up for this product, the customer or a person from the same household must present a Disabled Person’s Pass. In March 2021, we launched a special hotline facilitating communication for the elderly and the hearing impaired. Any customer with disabilities can stay in contact with our front office via the hotline with text call conversion.
We come up with efficient solutions to protect the most vulnerable households from energy poverty. This is a significant issue for people with disabilities and the retired, both with low disposable income. We provide them with discounted tariffs once they meet the contractual conditions.
Geopolitical events in the European region triggered by Russian aggression towards Ukraine resulted in market uncertainty. This was the main cause of price increases of electricity and gas for households in all European countries. CEZ Group initiated a set of corrective measures to mitigate these negative impacts.
Measures with immediate effect were individual payment plans for households struggling with standard payment schedule, repayment arrangements, and payment installments. A reduction of interest or waivers of delayed payments were applied in individual cases. ČEZ Prodej also established cooperation with civic counselling centers providing assistance and financial advisory service to clients free of charge.
Additionally, in 2022 we started our own activities aimed at customer education in energy savings and better energy management in their households. These activities included a campaign encouraging customers to do self-meter readings on a regular basis.
A major activity was the online tool www.setrim.cz focused on raising awareness of energy savings. The project is an interactive microsite, where users can get tailor-made measures based on their household parameters. Each measure provides the users with the annual financial savings effect. More than a million users (a tenth of the Czech population) visited the site in 2022. Further, all major Czech media houses promoted the online tool and its data. In 2023, we will launch the CEZ Academy, a series of webinars and courses for the public on energy saving opportunities.
For the second time, CEZ Group joined the nationwide campaign Gracious Summer II, which allows debtors to avoid foreclosures if they have them with public institutions and companies with a majority state share. For citizens with utility debts, CEZ Group launched a dedicated website with detailed instructions on how to proceed. For many years now, ČEZ Prodej has not enforced small amounts owed in court or by foreclosures due to the excessive burden on debtors.
ČEZ Prodej was active in consumer protection against unfair practices in the energy market in 2022. Efforts were mainly applied to uncovering illegal practices on the market and cultivating the market. ČEZ Prodej informs about such practices on a dedicated website (www.cez.cz/cs/nedejte-se), where consumers can find advice how to defend themselves.
ČEZ Prodej has a Code of Ethics, which defines transparent and fair conditions for dealing with customers and business partners. Employees are trained in these principles and conditions. The Code is based on the model code of ethics of the Energy Regulatory Authority and defines a set of rules and procedures for ethical and professional conduct towards the customer. The aim is to increase customer awareness and protection and to improve the level of service provided.
In 2022, extreme price hikes in gas and electricity prices occurred as a result of the unstable geopolitical situation and disruption of energy supplies in Europe. In reaction, the Czech government introduced several measures to protect households and other customers from the impact of these price hikes, e.g., price caps to regulate increasing energy costs of households, a savings tariff, and a waiver of fees for renewable resources from the price of electricity.
CEZ Group has supported all governmental activities, implemented measures on time and communicated the effects clearly in several communication campaigns, in contact centers and via an online platform MůjČEZ, as well as special websites.
Credibility is a key parameter of customer experience, and CEZ Group focuses intensively on strengthening it. The pro-customer orientation is reflected in the VISION 2030—Clean Energy of Tomorrow, where CEZ Group sets the goal to maintain the highest Net Promoter Score among large energy suppliers.
In 2022, CEZ Group was named the most trusted energy supplier for the sixth consecutive year. CEZ Group topped the Most Trusted Brand ranking in the energy supplier category. In the poll, 4,000 respondents rated 700 brands in various areas and categories. CEZ Group confirmed its position as a company with a long-term focus on customer experience, its improvement, and fostering trust.
Customer Experience (CX)
The energy industry is one of the more complex industries, and it can present a challenge to our customers, who have encountered its processes only a few times in their lives. In customer experience, we have long been concerned about the necessity of the high level of effort a customer puts into resolving their request. Therefore, our goal in CEZ Group is to make the experience as pleasant and as simple as possible.
The ultimate objective is a satisfied customer – a customer whose requests and needs are resolved quickly and without complications in a simple and easy-to-understand way. In the complex area of energy and technology, the customer is our priority.
Customer satisfaction is measured via a CX parameter that is based on CSAT (customer satisfaction score) and CES (customer effort score) methodology. The parameter is a composite index consisting of 3 components: satisfaction with request fulfilment, satisfaction with staff, and effort needed to get request fulfilled. Only the best mark is counted on a 5-point-scale from very satisfied to very unsatisfied.
We want to keep the CX parameter above 85% in the long term and make significant progress in CX efforts by 2023 so that our customers can always handle their requests quickly and smoothly.
Strategic priorities of CEZ Group include continuous modernization and digitalization of distribution network and digitalization of key customer services. The priorities were announced in VISION 2030— Clean Energy of Tomorrow, and the transformation of the distribution network includes three targets for 2030:
- the use of smart meters (the goal is 80% of power consumption to be covered by smart meters). The smart meter rollout on low-voltage smart meters rollout will commence in 2024. We will cover all customers with consumption over 6 MWh by July 2027.
- remotely measured transformer stations (the goal is 80% of transformer stations to be measured remotely). 20% of stations have been covered by 2022.
- installation of optic fiber networks (the goal is 11,000 km). At present, 4,200 km have been installed.
The aim of the digital transformation of the distribution network is the development of a smart automated grid with increased reliability. The development of the smart grid includes verification projects focused on metering, communication, network automation, and improvements in operational safety and supply reliability. Successfully verified concepts will become a part of implementation projects across the distribution grid. Our priority is efficient network management and subsequent cost reduction. The new smart grid will enable new connections of decentralized generation. It will also allow the utilization of the capacity of fiber optic networks for telecommunication services.
The second strategic priority is the transformation and digitalization of key customer services. Implemented ICT projects have both short-term and long-term impacts. Project goals will ensure long-term sustainability of existing solutions and develop new services. Our aim is to streamline not only internal processes but primarily services for customers and partners. The target is 100% of key customer processes to be digital by 2025. We plan major projects – transition to SAP HANA and GIS Utility network. We want to apply new procedures and modern IT services to support the achievement of the company’s ambitious goals (e.g., 80% interactions with customers as digital-only, increasing customer satisfaction).
In 2022, we fully digitized the process of requests for customer connection including digital signature. Based on this, we set ambitious goals for the adoption of digital channels. In this way, we create a professional relationship with the customer and meet the goals of the digitization strategy.
ČEZ Prodej is also digitizing internal and customer processes. Following a large increase in customer orders of rooftop photovoltaics, we created an application that enables a fast, flexible and efficient creation of installation offers, incl. tracking of current availability of components. We offer flexible and tailor-made solutions with precise information on the expected availability. We adapted our website to current customer needs and now offer support for specific life situations. We are also developing a brand new mobile app for customers to be launched in 2023.
CEZ Group established the Office of the Ombudsman in October 2009 as one of the first energy companies in Europe and the first one in Czechia. The ombudsman reports directly to the Board of Directors and is completely independent of CEZ Group subsidiaries.
CEZ Group established the Office of the Ombudsman in October 2009 as one of the first energy companies in Europe and the first one in Czechia. The ombudsman reports directly to the Board of Directors and is completely independent of CEZ Group subsidiaries. The ombudsman’s tasks include investigations of customer claims, assessments of customer suggestions for improvement of services provided by CEZ Group, and proposals of systemic changes to individual CEZ Group companies. As an independent body, the ombudsman also considers each case based on the customer’s individual circumstances and potential hardship. Since the establishment of the ombudsman office, 9,502 claims have been processed.
In 2022, the CEZ Group ombudsman received 902 notifications from customers: 889 submissions and 13 suggestions for improvement. The ombudsman assessed 74 complaints as legitimate. In 39 cases, the customers’ claims were recognized as legitimate by concerned companies from CEZ Group. In 35 cases, the ombudsman applied a specific approach for the customer’s benefit, namely exercising the right to apply for an exception in the case of a customer in a difficult life situation even if the claim is not justified.