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It is important to focus intensively on how to offer customers added value

Why does Germany need another energy supplier? And as a company with a great deal of experience in the field of electricity generation and energy trading, what exactly can we offer private households? Patrick Notzon, Head of Energy Retail Germany, explains how his team is equipped to create customer benefits in the future.

Patrick Notzon

Head of Energy Retail Germany

What was the decisive factor in the decision to venture into the retail business in Germany?

Due to our heritage, we have been experts on the pure commodity business for many years, and we now want to leave our comfort zone to pursue a European B2C strategy and tackle the rapid changes, in particular in the German retail sector. In order to be able to respond to the market’s high degree of flexibility, we have invested a great deal of time in the recruiting of employees, while at the same time ensuring that the majority of our processes are digitalised from the outset.

The German market is comparatively large and highly competitive. If consumers are willing to leave their local utility, they have a wide range of suppliers to choose from. Even e-mail providers such as GMX offer electricity. What can we offer private households?

We have a huge business advantage, but this is also our greatest challenge: Although we operate within a group structure, we embrace a start-up mentality, i.e. we are a very agile and highly motivated team whose operations are not constrained by a rigid corporate structure. Simultaneously, we do not have to bear the full extent of the risks of a conventional start-up. This allows us to respond spontaneously to new trends and to make system adjustments and implement new solutions at short notice. Due to our team’s commitment to perform successfully in a highly competitive market, we are capable of rapidly incorporating new market developments into innovative products and testing them on the market. This approach requires us to learn from mistakes and to integrate these insights directly into our processes and services for the benefit of our customers. Making mistakes is admissible as long as we learn from them and use them to continue to improve the added value for our customers.

How does this translate into your product design?

The foundation of our working method is to place the customer at the centre of all our deliberations. We regularly carry out customer interviews and gain market experience in the form of pilot projects. The insights we generate are shared across all functional areas of our team; for example experience gained during customer acquisition can have a direct impact on our processes and our calculation methods, which we then adjust and further optimise. We very quickly realised that we have to monitor, discuss and adapt our pricing policy to the changing market dynamics on a daily basis.

Since we have only been active in the retail business since July 2019, our current strategy is focused on establishing Alpiq on the B2C market – initially by offering robust electricity and gas products to raise our brand awareness. This year, however, we will also start drawing attention to ourselves by offering our customers initial innovations.

Is it nowadays necessary also to offer retail customers special services or benefits?

Yes, certainly. Simply supplying energy is not enough. After all, electricity and gas are products that are identical, regardless of the supplier. The service, price, corporate image or service packages is what sets us apart. We are currently working intensively on putting together packages and building partnerships with other service providers. The keyword here is cross-segment bundling. Why not combine electricity with a pay TV subscription and the delivery of movie night snacks? Why not offer the combination with smart meters and home storage solutions for households that have their own photovoltaic systems? We have plenty of ideas.

In addition to supplying electricity and gas, your range of services in Germany also includes full supply solutions for industrial and commercial customers as well as e-mobility solutions. How exactly do your customers benefit from these synergies?

The main advantage cannot be experienced directly by the customer: We have all the expertise in a single company. Alpiq has a wide range of experts in numerous fields. At our offices in Berlin, we are able to pool the know-how of three different divisions and discuss new ideas and trends in regular interdisciplinary workshops. We can apply our many years of experience, for example, to develop e-mobility solutions or to identify energy-hungry household appliances for our customers by analysing their consumption data.

Thanks to our wide-ranging expertise, we are able to design products that create added value while eliminating the need for the customer to sign contracts with many different service providers. We can do this on an entirely customised basis, quite apart from standardised products. We also try these things out during our pilot projects as mentioned above. In a nutshell: Every day, we work hard to understand our customers’ needs and to offer them customised value-adding services that go far beyond the conventional supply of electricity and gas.