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Selling electricity and gas

In the electricity and gas market A2A operates almost exclusively in Lombardy (99% of electricity customers and 99% of gas customers) through A2A Energia (using the trademarks Asmea, Bas Omniservizi and Tidonenergie), Aspem Energia and Camuna Energia. Customers are mainly domestic (private individuals and families), plus also small and medium businesses (craft firms, other firms, offices, retailers, etc.), large customers and apartment blocks.

Due to changes in legislation designed to encourage free competition on the market over the past decade an unbundling process has been taking place in Italy, separating companies that are involved in managing networks and distributing gas and/or electricity through the networks (“Distribution” companies) from those that have a contractual sales relationship with the end customer (‘Sales” companies). By virtue of this change, each customer has the right to freely choose the seller from whom he would like to buy his gas and/or electricity, on the basis of his needs and preferences.
Those that have already made this choice form part of the free market. Those on the other hand who have simply continued their previous contractual relationship before the liberalisation of the market form part of the protected market. The latter market still has a large majority of the share of the gas and electricity sector throughout the whole of the country and that is also true for A2A, as may be seen from the following two graphs.

CUSTOMER ANALYSIS BY TYPE

CLIENT ANALYSIS BY TYPE

SUPPLY CONTRACTS BY TYPE OF MARKET

SUPPLY CONTRACTS BY TYPE OF MARKET

Costs and methods of payment

For customers of the protected market the prices charged are periodically regulated by the Electricity and Gas Authority (AEEG), while for customers of the free market the seller makes proposals by means of varied and personalised offers.
Analysing average cost trends over the past three years for the amounts paid by a ‘standard’ customer, it may be said that costs have been essentially stable for both electricity and gas on the protected market (where the majority of A2A’s customers are to be found).
For electricity an ‘average’ family was taken as having a contract for domestic use, being resident and having 3kW of committed power and an average annual electricity usage of 2,700 kWh.  For gas an ‘average’ customer was taken as having independent heating and an annual usage of 1,400 cm. The following tables and graphs show trends over the past three years in the various components making up a bill.

 

ANNUAL AMOUNT SPENT ON ELECTRICITY BY AN AVERAGE FAMILY
Protected market – Domestic resident use - Committed power 3 kW – Annual consumption 2,700 KWh

 
2009 2010 2011
Variable portion (usage) € 57.73 € 333.91 € 344.95
Fixed portion (linked to the power of the meter, etc.) € 32.20 € 32.10 € 29.94
Taxes € 22.36 € 22.36 € 22.36
VAT € 41.23 € 41.23 € 39.73
TOTAL € 453.52 € 427.21 € 436.98
ANNUAL AMOUNT SPENT ON GAS BY AN AVERAGE FAMILY Protected market - Independent heating – Annual consumption 1,400 cm

2009 2010 2011
Variable portion (usage) € 659.99 € 586.15 € 662.71
Fixed portion (linked to the power of the meter, etc.) € 47.11 € 61.65 € 65.64
Taxes € 226.34 € 231.16 € 231.15
VAT € 157.69 € 156.58 € 171.32
TOTAL € 1,091.00 € 1,035.00 € 1,130.00

TRENDS IN ELECTRICTY BILL COSTS

TRENDS IN ELECTRICTY BILL COSTS

TRENDS IN GAS BILL COSTS

TRENDS IN GAS BILL COSTS

Energy mix in the bill

Informing customers about the details of the energy they have used and making customers aware of their energy decisions are principles introduced by Directive 2003/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 26, 2003 and identified as the process known as Fuel Mix Disclosure.
The Ministerial Decree of July 31, 2009, which incorporates this process, establishes that from 2010 sales companies must provide their end customers with information about the composition of the production energy mix of the electricity supplied together with the average annual national production mix of the electricity put into the Italian electricity system. In 2011 A2A fulfilled its disclosure requirements for 2010 as an electricity producer and as a sales company by informing the Electricity Services Operator (GSE) of its production source mix and the composition of the energy sold to its customers.
In September 2011 the GSE published the energy production mix of all Italian producers - 40% of A2A’s production is from renewable sources - and calculated and published the average national mix. Finally, it determined the composition of the energy sold by each company to its customers, information that every sales company is required to communicate to its customers in its bills, in its commercial offers and on its website.

A2A issues around 13 million bills each year for electricity and gas services, payable on a monthly, two-monthly or quarterly basis depending on the type of customer and service.

Customers have a whole series of different channels available to pay their bills, some of which do not require any charge for using the service.

New methods of payment were introduced in 2011 which were added to those already consolidated (direct debit, post office giro, at the counter). The ‘SISAL’ collection office channel has been activated for all commercial brands and the large-scale retail chain channel, with the Co-ops adhering to the scheme (over 100 sales points). In addition, the number of banks that are members of the scheme which allow payments to be made free of charge at their branches has increased.

Over 50% of customers use the direct debit service (RID), while payment using pre-printed post office giro forms comes second in customers’ habits. The other channels are used less frequently.

METHOD OF PAYMENT

METHOD OF PAYMENT

Bills easier with the new "Guide to reading your bill"

Guida alla lettura della bolletta

Current legislation requires a whole series of information to be included in bills which is not always so very easy to understand.
For this reason in 2011 A2A Energia initiated a project for the distribution of a “Guide to reading your bill” for both electricity and gas bills. This project arose from a collaboration with 17 consumers’ associations who joined the initiative and envisages the distribution of this guide through the following channels:

  • publication on websites;

  • through the consumers’ associations which have joined the initiative;

  • at A2A’s commercial desks;

  • inclusion with the bill.

Example of how the explanation of the way in which an electricity bill works will be set out in the reading guide.

 

 

 

 

 

There was an increase in the number of activations of electronic bills in 2011. On the other hand the reduction continued in the use by customers of the self-reading system, due to the progressive introduction of the new electronic meters equipped with telereaders.
A total of 339,542 self-readings were made in 2011 of which 121,128 online, equal to 37.7% of the total.

A2A ENERGIA ELECTRONIC BILL ACTIVATIONS
Number of
activations
 to 2010
Number of
activations
to 2011
% increase
2011/2010
88,000 121,000 37.50%

For customers not using the bollett@mail service, A2A Energia avails itself of a “certified” service for the delivery of paper documents, which enables deliveries to be tracked through to the end customer throughout a large section of the country, thanks to a satellite system capable of indicating the time, date and place of the delivery of each individual bill. The results of the delivery are available to all the operators in the Contact Centre, who are therefore able to provide customers with information about the delivery of the bills in real time. This service has considerably reduced the number of complaints that arrived on this matter in the past.

Social bonus for the purchase of electricity and gas

A2A Energia provides specific “bonuses” for the purchase of energy for people who find themselves in difficult economic and social situations, issued in accordance with the legislation on social bonuses. These are measures to compensate the costs for the supply of electricity and gas incurred by domestic customers in economic need or whose household contains people with serious health difficulties who need to use medical or therapeutic equipment to stay alive. These bonuses are provided to all domestic customers meeting the requirements who have made an application to the municipality where they live to be charged at the social tariff.

SACTIVE CUSTOMERS USING THE SOCIAL BONUS
 
2010 2011
Gas Bonus 21,644 18,942
Electricity Bonus
27,369 19,549

Contact channels and customer assistance

One important channel for customer contact is represented by the bill itself, with which the Group usually sends relevant information by using messages or enclosing information booklets.

In addition to this, in order to ensure each type of customer (domestic, commercial, industrial, etc.) receives the highest level of assistance, the A2A Group also provides its customers with the possibility of using the following services:

  • call centres accessible through toll-free numbers which are open round the clock thanks to an automatic interactive answering service system which is switched on at the times when the operator service is closed;

  • desks for the public throughout the local area;

  • paper/fax/email communication;

  • online desks of the sales websites accessible round the clock and separated according to the various brand names.

www.a2aenergia.it

In certain cases, for example in the promotion of new sales offers, direct communication channels are used such as direct mailing and/or events and initiatives organised locally and arranged for customers.
A2A manages access for each customer individually through the various channels, ensuring the complete traceability of all contacts; these are ‘historicised’ and put at the immediate disposal of operators, who in that way have access to all the information referring to each separate customer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DESKS - CUSTOMERS SERVED

DESKS - CUSTOMERS SERVED

DESKS - CUSTOMERS SERVED BY PROVINCE

DESKS - CUSTOMERS SERVED BY PROVINCE

In 2011 the sales desks of Group companies received over 324 thousand visitors with an average waiting time of 13 minutes 42 seconds.
In agreement with the Prefect of Brescia it was decided during the year to keep the Brescia desk open on a continuous basis on Wednesdays (for a trial period that began in April 2012) in conjunction with a project for the similar opening of public desks in the Brescia area.
A service providing desks for contracts on the free market was also started up in 2011 having the aim of promoting sales directly with domestic customers, ensuring that a clearer description can be provided of the contents of sales offers and enabling a direct and transparent relationship to be achieved.
An increasing appreciation by customers of the services provided by the company emerges from the figures relating to access to the internet portals, online transactions and bill payment services. The following graph shows the number of monthly visitors to the websites of the sales brands of A2A Energia and Aspem Energia. Some 14.4% of customers are registered with the Group’s web portals.

WEBSITE VISITS*

WEBSITE VISITS*

Customer assistance

The service provided is based on principles of equality, impartiality, continuity and efficiency. It is guaranteed for residents of the whole of the competence area and the rules determining the customer-supplier relationship are the same for everyone. A2A is careful to apply the best conditions so that each customer may access the services on an equal basis, overcoming any cultural, language or disability barriers.
In this sense the A2A Group has taken a variety of initiatives, including: making available multi-language information booklets at the sales desks of A2A Energia, having present operators capable of dealing with multi-language relationships, making available DPS telephones (telephone devices for the hard of hearing) at the call centre service, despatching bills in Braille for the visually impaired, making available desks with priority access in the case of people with specific needs (the disabled, pregnant women, the elderly and the needy).
Work is currently being carried out on a new type of ‘bill in Braille’, which is expected to become available to customers in 2012 and which will enable them to read it in both print and Braille at the same time (in the present bills for the visually impaired the text in Braille is separate from the text in print).

Assistenza ai clienti

Watch out for fraud!

Occhio alle truffe!

A2A is especially committed to ensuring that the customer receives a service that respects the utmost transparency and propriety. With this in mind, a series of measures have been taken against ‘unfair commercial practices’ which are carried out by providing false and fraudulent information to consumers with the aim of submitting proposals for supply directed at the free market. The findings of the Electricity and Gas Authority (AEEG) show that over 3,500 reports have been made throughout Italy over the past year and a half, with a clear majority relating to domestic users (84%).
In November 2011 an agreement was signed with five consumers’ associations, and the “Observatory on unfair commercial practice” was set up in which the following bodies are involved in addition to A2A and A2A Energia: ACU-Associazione Consumatori Utenti, Casa del Consumatore, CODICI-Centro per i Diritti del Cittadino, Lega Consumatori and Coniacut. The Observatory is open to any other associations and/or sales companies which may be interested. In February 2012 Aspem Energia also joined. The aim of the Observatory is to protect and inform customers by means of communication campaigns and dedicated initiatives about the spreading of unfair commercial practices and the potential risks and costs for users (regarding activation and the handing over of supply), establishing guidelines for the proper preparation of contracts and performing a constant monitoring of the cases reported or detected. In this respect the antitrust authorities have been involved and a document has been presented to the AEEG which is expected to intervene and create regulations for these situations.

Quality of the electricity and gas service

certificazione ISO 9001:2008

The quality of the service provided to customers is a constant commitment for the A2A Group.
In 2011 A2A Energia introduced a Quality Management System and in November of the year obtained the ISO 9001:2008 certification.
The introduction of the Quality Management System has been extended to all of the services provided by A2A Energia, sales services and the related services, and is applicable to all the main locations where the company operates.
The goal of having certification in all fields of business is the fruit of synergies obtained thanks to the consolidation of processes that have been certified in certain areas for over the past ten years and confirm the quality of the services provided, with ratification being provided by an internationally recognised outside body.
The objective of the system is the constant search for improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of the service through ‘sensitive’ qualitative and quantitative parameters which enable the activities carried out to be monitored, all in compliance with sustainable development.
Specific emphasis is placed on the services that represent a channel of ‘direct’ contact with customers, such as call centres, local sales desks, internet services, sales services, marketing and assistance, all considered critical success factors for satisfying customers and gaining their loyalty over time.
As part of the Quality Management System, A2A Energia has introduced a procedure to monitor “no-compliance”, that extends up to the solution to the problem and, in certain cases, envisages the setting up of corrective and/or preventive measures with respect to future events. In the sphere of marketing activities no cases of “on-compliance” were found with respect to 2011. A2A Energia’s commitment to quality is formalised in a suitable “policy”, circulated both inside and outside the Group, which summarises its principles and objectives.

A2A call centre: quality on the line

The companies of the A2A Group adhere to the quality standards established by the Electricity and Gas Authority (AEEG) for its call centre services.
In particular, these services regard the average waiting time on the telephone line, the qualitative level in terms of the percentage of calls completed successfully and the accessibility of the service.
In 2011 A2A dealt with over a million calls, handled by staff who are experts in the gas and electricity services. Figures on the activities of the call centre for the first half of 2011, officially measured by the AEEG for a comparison between operators in the sector, confirm A2A’s high performance levels and a further improvement over 2010.

QUALITATIVE LEVEL OF CALL CENTRE SERVICES*
Minimum standards set by the Energy Authority
A2A ENERGIA ASPEM ENERGIA
2010 2011 2010 2011
Percentage of successful calls
>=80% 97.00% 98.60% 98.00% 98.00%
Accessibility of the lines and the service (free line time compared to time when the operator is present) >=80% 100.00% 100.00% 99.00% 99.00%
Average waiting time on the telephone (seconds) <=240'' 81 79 6 20
* Aspem Energia is not required to monitor data as it has fewer than 50,000 customers.

A2A rewards loyal customers and those who are careful about the environment

For the fourth consecutive year A2A Energia has renewed its domestic customer fidelity programme for the Asmea, Bas Omniservizi  and Tidonenergie brands. This programme, which had around 25,000 members at the end of 2011, is based on numerous awareness initiatives, including the promotion of eco-sustainable products and services such as the supply of green energy, low consumption lamps, composters, domestic photovoltaic, ‘bio and zero km’ products). During the two events organised in Brescia and Bergamo for members of the programme ecological ‘gadgets’ consisting of 4,000 biodegradable shopping bags and 2,000 cotton shopping bags were given as a present. There are plans to introduce a new fidelity programme in 2012 (see the Sustainability Plan in this respect).

Customer satisfaction

Databank-Cerved Group Observatory Survey

In 2011 the Databank-Cerved Group Energy Observatory conducted a survey on a sample of gas and electricity customers in the Milan and Brescia areas, analysed between domestic customers, self-employed customers and small-medium businesses, comparing the figures relating to the leading market operators. The main objective of the survey was to measure the level of customer satisfaction compared to the Group’s leading competitors.
The results confirmed very positive valuations for A2A, which was always placed between 1st and 3rd place in the league table, depending on the type of customer.

For GAS customers:

  •  in the domestic sector A2A took 1st place in the Italian market with a satisfaction index of 93.1% (compared to a market average of 88%) and obtained a high level of appreciation (97.9%) for its ability to resolve problems and satisfy the requests of customers in the shortest time possible.

  •  in the self-employed and small and medium enterprise sector A2A took 1st place with an index of 88.6% compared to a national average of 85.2%..

For ELECTRICITY customers:

  •  in the domestic sector A2A took 3rd place with a satisfaction index of 91.0% (compared to a market average, falling overall, of 89.6%); in this case too there was a high level of appreciation for A2A (95.7%) for its ability to resolve problems and satisfy the requests of customers in the shortest time possible.

  •  in the self-employed and small and medium enterprise sector A2A took 2nd place with an index of 89.3% (compared to an average, falling overall, of 84.8%)..

The survey carried out by the Cerved Group is part of a programme for monitoring services which A2A Energia has introduced over the past few years and which it will continue in the future, on an annual basis, in order to keep its performance levels high.
In 2012 it is the Group’s intention to extend these surveys to free market customers by using an Observatory dedicated to monitoring certain indices on an annual basis. In total it is planned to carry out at least two surveys a year on customer satisfaction (besides those envisaged by the AEEG for the call centres).

BICSI 2011 SURVEY INTO THE LEVEL OF CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
 
  2009 2010 2011
  Type of customer Satisfaction
index A2A customers
Average market index A2A position out of all companies examined Satisfaction
index A2A customer
Average market index A2A position out of all companies examined Satisfaction
index A2A customers
Average market index A2A position out of all companies examined
Gas Domestic 89.9 86.3 3/9 93.5 90.3 1/8 93.1 88 1/9*
Self-employed and SMEs 91.7 87.9 2/7 93.5 89 1/6 88.6 85.2 1/9
Electricity Domestic 89 88.1 2/7 93.7 92.2 3/8 91 89.6 3/11
Self-employed and SMEs 91.1 87.8 1/9 93.4 87.9 2/9 89.3 84.8 2/11
*Equal to a competitor of a smaller size

The call centre satisfaction survey

The Electricity and Gas Authority has been carrying out half-yearly surveys since 2008 on the quality of commercial telephone services as perceived by end customers using the call centres of sales companies having more than 50,000 end customers.
The figures for A2A Energia confirmed once again in 2011 the appreciation of customers for the company’s call centre, as may be seen in detail in the table. The general satisfaction index was 95.1%, an increase over the same period of the previous year (94.3%).
Trends in this index, starting from the first survey carried out in 2008, confirm the placing of A2A Energia as being always above the national average (see the graph below).

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY RESULTS

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY RESULTS

CALL CENTRES OF ELECTRICITY AND GAS COMPANIES AND CUSTOMER SATISFACTION LEVELS AEEG survey – 1st half of 2011
 A2A
Energia
National average



Elements of assessment
Net satisfied customers Net satisfied customers
Gap
Time taken to find the line free 97.3 92.8 4.5
Simplicity of the automatic answering system for being able to speak with the operator 92.4 92.2 0.2
Waiting time to speak with the operator 97.9 93 4.9
Politeness of operators 98.7 96.2 2.5
Clarity of answers 97 90.6 6.4
Ability to resolve the problem in the shortest time possible 95.5 83.7 11.8
General customer satisfaction index 95.1 88.1 7

Besides these surveys, A2A Energia has continued to use the ‘after call’ survey method, which measures customer satisfaction at the end of work that has just been carried out by telephone. Under this method a customer can express his opinion by giving a rating of 1 (min) to 4 (max) on the following aspects: politeness of operators, waiting time, clarity and ability to resolve problems.
The results of this were very positive for the company, as may be seen from the chart, with opinions being given top marks (4) in 75% of the cases. The figures refer to opinions expressed between September and December 2011.

PERCENTAGE OF VALUATIONS RECORDED - AFTER CALL SURVEY

PERCENTAGE OF VALUATIONS RECORDED - AFTER CALL SURVEY