When you look into remote working, the first piece of advice everyone gives you is to ‘over-communicate’. And, right now over-communicate is probably a good motto for businesses too. This is unchartered territory for everyone, so sharing more information is likely to help.
We’re going to start with this blog post. It’s more detailed (and longer) than usual but there’s a lot to talk about. We hope it might help our members, and other businesses facing similar challenges.
While the world is moving so fast I plan to do this regularly.
Our priorities are the same as ever; our members, our team and our mission.
Supporting our members
We know there’s a lot to worry about right now. We’re trying to make sure that energy isn’t one of your worries.
So we offer free support services if you or someone you live with needs help to manage your energy supply. For example, because you:
are aged 60 or over
have a child under 5 years old
have a disability or long term health problem
have recently experienced a life changing event, such as a bereavement or job loss
If you think coronavirus has put you in a position where you need this extra support, you can find out more about these services and how to register. And if coronavirus is likely to impact your financial situation, the government has shared advice on how to claim benefits during the coronavirus outbreak. We’ll also try to be flexible with payments where we can. We can offer alternative payment methods and longer repayment periods. Get in touch and we can discuss these with you.
We contacted all our prepay members at the beginning of last week to offer advice on steps they can take to make sure your energy supply isn't affected in case they feel unwell or need to self-isolate.
We’re sure that people are going to need more help as self-isolation continues so we’re working with the government, Ofgem and Citizen’s Advice to work out what else we can do to help. We have our own ideas, but we want to make sure we’re acting in coordination with the rest of the industry. There are all sorts of interesting ideas emerging from our colleagues at other energy companies – it’s great to see the cooperation that’s happening across the industry. We think every customer should get the same kind of support no matter who their supplier is, so we're offering ideas that can work for everyone.
Specifically, we are looking at how the Government could best provide financial support for vulnerable customers affected by coronavirus. You might have seen the government announcement about that on Thursday. We are working with them on how this can be put in place.
We are also working with our industry partners to make sure we can help people who have problems with their meters and need engineers to visit their homes. Obviously this might be an issue if people are self-isolating and we’ll need to be mindful of the health of our members and the engineers. And, we’re contacting everyone who has a smart meter installation booked and letting them know how to cancel the appointment if they need to.
And, finally, inspired by a brilliant initiative from some retailers, we’ve created a dedicated phone line for our members who are over 70. While we’re trying to keep most phone calls to ‘emergency only’, we know our members over 70 might face particular issues while self-isolating. We wanted to provide them with the reassurance that there was someone to talk to about their energy when they need it most. We started contacting these members by email yesterday, and the final emails have been sent today.
Supporting our team
We asked Team Bulb to start working from home from Monday morning. This has meant a reduced phone service, so we’re asking members to contact us via email and chat where possible. So far it’s working well and we’re able to deliver effective service to our members. We’ve been answering members on chat, for instance, in under 2 minutes.
This has been possible because we’ve been planning it for a while. We’ve tested working from home several times in the last few weeks. We’ve made sure our technology and our people can cope and we’ve added back-up resources outside London and outside the UK.
We have also asked our direct sales partners to stop promoting Bulb door-to-door and in public spaces, like supermarkets. Over the past 6 months we’ve had a brilliant group of around 300 people out and about, selling Bulb. We were worried about how they’d earn a living if they weren’t able to continue. However, we’ve arranged for these teams to retrain with our telesales partners, so they’ll still have jobs to go to on Monday. We’re very grateful to all our partners for the flexibility they’ve shown in making these things happen.
Indeed, I have to say that I’m very proud of the way our whole team has responded. They’ve got on with serving our members calmly, with no fuss and with a real sense of dedication. It’s been extraordinary to see it happen.
Staying focused on our mission
Our mission remains the same – to help people and businesses reduce their energy bills and their carbon impact. So, although the news has been taken over by coronavirus, the climate crisis isn’t going away. It remains the most important problem facing the world. So we’re not going to stop talking about it.
And we’re not going to stop gently suggesting to people that they sign up to Bulb to reduce their carbon impact. This might be a good time for the whole country to do some domestic admin, save a few hundred pounds and make an impact on our collective carbon footprint. And if you’re already a member, our referral programme remains extremely generous.
So you’ll see us continue to be active on social media, sharing tips about how people can save on their energy bills and reduce their carbon impact. We’d love it if you could share some of your own tips too.
Look after yourselves and we’ll update you again soon.