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Commercial Policy and Customer Care

Commercial Policy and Customer Care

In line with the objectives of the business plan, in 2010 the commercial strategy which was begun in previous years and which focuses on the two following areas will continue to be pursued:

  • Commercial development
  • Optimisation of customer management

Commercial development 

In 2010, the commercial activities were even more intense than in the previous year, in line with the challenging objectives which were set and achieved. Thanks to this and despite the competition on the deregulated electricity market, there was an increase in the number of customers this year as well across all services and a positive balance in terms of supply points (as shown in the table below)

 31-dic-1031-dic-09delta pdf n.delta pdf n.
Electricity 382.50335.3047.2014.07%
Water 1,173.301,166.307.000.60%

Key: Gas; Electricity; Water; TIA; Supply point change

This increase in free market services was achieved by continuing the commercial development policy that breaks down into the following points:

  • multi-service offer: simplifying customer management by offering a sole contact and a single bill for energy services (gas and electricity), and also for those licensed (water and municipal sanitation) in the areas managed;
  • proximity to customers: being “physically” close to customers through a network of approximately 100 branches and a widespread sales structure; being quickly accessible through contact centres and the web; being socially responsible and contributing to the growth of the territory and local communities through its activities;
  • simplified management: independently manage one’s bill through the new HER@ ONLINE site and the possibility of requesting the bill to be sent via email and direct debiting of the utilities.
  • economic advantage and transparency: proposing offers that are always competitive and clear, suited to the needs of all customers (over thirty offers are available, many of which can be further customised).



The commercial strategy is broken down differently depending on the various types of customers:

  • families,
  • small and medium-sized companies,
  • large companies
  • blocks of flats,
  • public administrations.

In 2010, for the Families segment, Hera Comm launched the new “CasaDolceCasa” [home sweet home] offer for dual fuel, with a discount on the electricity component provided by the AEEG (Italian Authority for Electricity and Gas).

In relation to electricity sales to companies, Hera Comm proposed offers of both electricity as a single supply as well as paired with gas (dual fuel offer), and offering, in addition, the Energia Verde option in 2010, or the possibility of purchasing energy produced from renewable sources. The new element was Casa&Bottega, the combination of the “CasaDolceCasa” dual fuel offer for families with the “Buon Lavoro” offer for businesses. A dedicated offer was also proposed for blocks of flats named “Buon Condominio.”

Optimisation of customer management  

Since the day it was established, the Hera Group decided to maximize integration between services and group systems by setting up a single platform that is composed of two main structures:

  • Group Invoicing and Collection System
  • Management channels

Group Invoicing and Collection System  

  Through its shared systems, Hera issued more than 17 million bills in 2010, following the multiservice strategy which allows our customers to simplify the administrative part and reduce payment costs. Requests have continuously increased for electronic sending of bills, implemented in the second half of 2008, with +99% of customers requesting activation of the service, which increased from 11,800 at the end of 2009 to approximately 24,000 customers in December 2010. This corresponds to approximately 31,700 bills which, for each invoice, are sent via email thereby causing less environmental impact and savings of 5.7 metric tons of CO2 in the atmosphere and the absorption capacity of 760 trees, that is 380 more trees in a year. 

The large range of payment methods available to Hera customers for bill payments (RID (direct debits) , banks, post offices, Sisal and Lottomatica betting shops, online using a credit card, and Coop Adriatica, Reno and Estense stores) has been very appreciated by customers who in 2010 expressed increased satisfaction through the Customer Satisfaction survey.

There was an increase in usage of the new method for customers to communicate self-readings of meters through SMS, available since 2007, in addition to existing telephone and internet communication, confirming its growth. The satisfaction of customers with this service is high.

Management channels

In 2010 the Hera Group continued its policy of strengthening customer contact channels, with the goal of making it increasingly simple and fast to contact Hera. The Group has 5 separate contact channels:

  1. family call centres
  2. company call centres
  3. branches
  4. web
  5. mail

Several parameters of services rendered that highlight the accessibility of these channels are shown below.

Average contact centre waiting times (sec.)200520062007200820092010
residential customers70,234,546,266,133,233,8
business customers 43,926,842,425,222,1
Number of calls to the contact centre (no.)200520062007200820092010
residential customers1,394,4581,991,2642,375,8232,489,1802,428,3922,495,000
business customers 59,686105,447115,997152,046282,000
Percentage of successful calls to the contact centre (%)200520062007200820092010
residential customers87.10%94.10%94.20%93.20%94.20%93.8%
business customers 89.00%97.60%95.50%92.60%94.9%
Average contact centre waiting times (min.)  200520062007200820092010

We confirm the strong presence of Hera branches in the zone  (84 in the Hera zone and approximately 16 in the Hera Comm Marche zone), with the inauguration of the new layout of the TOP branches of Modena and Ferrara. The redesign of the TOP branches was completed with the latter, and they are now uniform to a very high degree, in terms of logistics, management and layout.

With Lugo in 2010 the process of updating the major priority branches was commenced as well. The TOP model was used which, though on a smaller scale, maintains the visual identity and the management process.

All pre-existing Customer Management units were gathered under Hera Comm in 2010. The change was completely transparent for the customers and caused no discontinuity. The evident effects of this reorganisation were the optimisation of resources, more uniformity in decision making and better planning ability. The results, both in terms of service levels  and customer satisfaction (the customer satisfaction survey gave Hera branches excellent marks) confirm the correctness of this choice.

The renewals of the layouts of other priority branches are planned for 2011.

The visits to the branches in 2011 were approximately 11.27% higher than in 2010 (+46,000 customers). Despite this, the waiting time decreased further to 14.5 minutes. In particular, the variance between the branches was reduced, thereby making the service level throughout the zone more uniform. The percentage of customers with non standard waiting times was further reduced to only 8%.

The positive effects of the F.A.S.T. project (begun in 2008) were consolidated, and the new S.PR.I.N.T. system (Sistema Previsionale Integrato Normalizzazione Tempi - Integrated Forecasting System for Time Standardization) was developed in 2010. The engineered system will be deployed fully across the branches during 2011. This involves innovative software developed along Hera specifications, that broadens the scope of F.A.S.T. by extending the model in three areas:

  • processing of daily forecasts of visits to individual branches over the medium and the long term;
  • optimisation of the staff available, based also on the visits, balancing the minimisation of the use of the staff with the achievement of targets;
  • provision to coordinators of an instrument to support their decisions “in real time,” allowing them to adapt the layout of the structure according to actual circumstances.

The objective is to achieve further stabilization of the waiting times together with better operational planning and therefore optimal use of available staff. In the second half of 2011, the S.PR.I.N.T. model will be extended to the call centres as well.

In 2010, the figures achieved in 2009 in relation to accessibility and service quality were confirmed for the family market call centres. For the business market call centres, the figures are increasing (they have almost reached 2008 values), though the contacts were doubled on account of the transferral of customers with VAT codes from the family call centres to the business call centres.

The call centre survey carried out by the AEEG in the first half of 2010 over a total of 30 companies selling electricity and gas with over 50,000 customers gave a higher overall rating to Hera Comm (the Group sales company): from 83.8 points in 2009 to 91.3 points in 2010. Hera Comm was ranked in 4th place among the 30 major Italian electricity companies.

The survey’s reference parameters were access to the services (availability of lines, access periods, free calls), the quality (waiting times, percentage of calls answered, possibility of being called back) and in general, the degree of customer satisfaction. The performance of Hera Comm above national standards in regard to ease of accessing the service, waiting times and call management were confirmed. Hera Comm ranked above the sector average in terms of its ability to resolve problems and requests and to provide coherent responses in the case of several calls as well.

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