British Gas unveils strategy to get closer to customers

British Gas is to launch an advertising campaign to promote its new personalised tariff service as it steps up efforts to create bespoke products gleaned from customer insight initiatives.

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Energy firm’s marketing strategy to create more personalised and mobile-first products through revamped insight offering.

The ‘Tariff Check’ campaign launches later this week (13 February) with TV and press adverts promoting the brand’s pledge to tell customers whether they could be on cheaper deals every six months.

The activity has been developed in partnership with the company’s independent nine-strong “Customer Board” – made up of representatives from eight different regions across Britain – as well as using insight gleaned from 50,000 bill payers from all the major energy suppliers via its ‘Your World’ online crowdsourcing panel. The panel will be expanded throughout the year to support the development of new services.

The launch comes just months after the government announced plans to limit energy suppliers to offering four tariffs. It is hoped the proposals will intensify competition and consequently drive prices down and make the sector more reliant on customer engagement.

Will Orr, commercial director at British Gas, told Marketing Week the brand has made “big strides” in improving its customer insight offering over the last five years but admitted there was a “lot more it could do.”

He adds: “Improving customer service and creating new services that are more individually relevant to consumers predate the latest conversations around regulation. We’ve been doing this for a number of years now.

“This approach to developing brands is why I’ve restructured the commercial team around distinct groups of customers. We’ve also put a new data-platform in last year to allow us to process data faster. Developing services is no longer about commissioning market research – that’s still an element of it – but its increasingly about enabling the business to make real-time decisions based on a better understanding of customer needs.”

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To support the strategy, the brand is also planning to launch more mobile-based services, particularly around smart meters, in a bid to open up further customer insight opportunities.

Orr adds: “An energy account can start to become personalised because the customer is accessing it from a very personal device. With smart meters having sim cards in them, there’s further opportunity for us to look at innovative ways people can be more energy efficient.”

Separately, the brand is looking to strike more brand partnerships similarly to its deal with Nectar in a bid to develop new types of services and be less reliant on building awareness around traditional sponsorship deals.

The announcement comes a week after rivals SSE and npower unveiled plans to boost their investment in customer-focused brand building initiatives over the next 12 months.

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