International Women's Day 2024 - Shining the spotlight on April & Hannah at E.ON Next

  • DebF_EONNext's Avatar
    Community Team
    International Women's Day is all about empowering women, equality and inclusion. It's no secret that many industries have been (and often still are) male dominated and the energy industry is no exception.

    This is changing though and In the words of the wise Beyonce..."Who run the world, Girls"
    I think it's safe to say that within E.ON Next we have lot's of influential ladies and we asked you to send us some questions for 2 of the important ladies of the E.ON Next community. You asked and they've answered! Let me introduce you to...

    April - Head of Digital Operations at E.ON Next!

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    "Hi I'm April - I'm Head of Digital Operations here at E.ON Next. I've been here for almost 3yrs now, before this I worked at E.ON for 9yrs. I love working with people, helping them succeed and be their best self. I've been lucky enough to have roles where I can utilise all of these skills.

    I love my family time, travelling and a cheeky McDonalds. I also love a good book and reading about how the mind works and why people do what they do. I studied criminology and psychology! I love getting stuck into a good crime series."

    Hannah - Digital Operations Manager & Head of E.ON Next Community!

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    "Hi I'm Hannah - I've been at E.ON Next for 2.5 years now, but before that spent 14 years at the older part of E.ON. I've worked all over - from customer service to marketing to HR, but by far my favourite has been leading the community.

    I spend most of my time when I'm away from work either travelling the country on family days or watching rubbish t.v - 2 extremes! I love a good restaurant, the cinema and my team wouldn't let me get away without mentioning my love of takeaways."

    "We've been told that there are no managers or supervisors to handle matters that front line "energy specialists" don't seem to be able to resolve. Do you think this lies behind the generally poor reputation E.ON Next has for poor customer service? How can these issues be resolved more quickly?"

    Hannah: We do absolutely have team leaders and operation managers available to support our energy specialists whenever they need it, but we also call them specialists for a reason. They're the most important people our business and often know much more about the ins and outs of billing, metering and smart than we would. We empower our specialists to handle all customer queries and don't believe in 'escalating' a customer to a team leader necessarily leads to a better service.

    That said, part of our team leaders day to day role is to be coaching and checking the quality of conversations, seeing where they can support and removing any blockers preventing something being resolved. Of course we don't get it right all the time, and having somewhere like our community where we can see these issues helps us shape the feedback and plans for upskilling and coaching so please keep it coming!

    "In the Contact Us section on the website under Social Media it lists emails as a mode of communication along with Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. It implies that you'll get a reply within hours, which of course we know is not correct. Would it not be a good idea to remove it as you have an email section below?"

    Hannah: Great spot! Whilst sometimes we do get back to emails within a few hours, we aim to get back to everyone as quickly as possible. We'll get this one raised with our website team.

    "What are your 3 biggest energy saving tips?"

    April: My personal ones...Only boiling the kettle for water needed to make a brew, turning my boiler down by a few degrees and turning off all switches. Small changes but they really do make a difference, oh and an electric blanket for bed 😃

    "Up until fairly recently, the Community Team was dominated by the womenfolk. Poor old @PeterT_EONNext was the sole male representitive of the team. No that a couple of the team have left us (Beki and Benni), we now have @Connor_EONNext and @Lee_EONNext which has shifted the balance more towards and even mix. But there is still a rather female bias. The Community Comrades, on the other hand, has a slightly different tilt, with the team being predominantly male. The Comrades also seem to be rather more 'tech savvy' and clued up more than the majority of the customer service agents. Some rebalancing required, perhaps? Or are we all OK with the status quo?" 👫

    Hannah: Very relevant for international Women's Day! We actually see a lot of female representation in E.ON Next overall, with a female CEO and a lot of women in senior leadership. Also going a bit more specific, within the Digital Operations area the community team sits within, again we see a much higher female ratio than elsewhere in the business. So it's not just the community team! There's possibly a few reasons for this, but the flexibility in hours and shift patterns within Digi OPs does attract a lot of working mums, as it allows them to fit work around school runs etc.

    We love that we can offer a place where anyone can balance their work and their home life better, so it's likely this will influence our ratio of males to females for some time.

    In terms of the tech savvy side, we know there’s decades of experience amongst you comrades that would be difficult to compete with even with the most in depth training available to our energy specialists! But we’re always looking at ways to improve the knowledge amongst all our staff, whilst also making sure as many customers as possible benefit from your incredible knowledge by pointing them towards your posts and guides.
    "When you were growing up did you dream of working in the energy industry or did you have other ambitions?"

    Hannah: Absolutely not the energy industry! I studied Criminology at University, initially with the aim of joining the police but after discovering a love for criminal law had dreams of becoming a lawyer. After my degree I needed to work for a year to save up much needed money to do my masters degree, which is where E.ON came in - the plan was always for it to be a stop gap! But as we hear time and time again, reality hit in terms of how much money it takes to become a lawyer and the need to pay the bills etc so that year turned into 16 years. Whilst it wasn't my ambition, I ma so grateful to E.ON for giving me the opportunities they have. I've had 11 different roles over those 16 years in a variety of different parts of the business and they've helped me realise what's important to me in a job.

    April: As much as I LOVE my job, I can't say it was in my career dreams as a young girl. I find it really interesting at a young age we need to decide our whole future, for some people that's easier than others. Bit like Hannah, I studied psychology and criminology at university with an ambition to work in prisons with offenders to understand why people behave and think the way they do. I am still obsessed with a true crime series. However, being a people leader I get to use that desire to understand what drives people and to help develop and grow people in their future careers. This is probably my most favourite part of my job.

    "Why do E.ON Next cling to a bereavement process that clearly isn't fit for purpose?"

    Hannah: I know I've posted before when it was raised about how our process was impacting people at one of the worst times for them, and I said at the time I was embarrassed. It felt like we made a lot of positive changes at the point so let me commit to going away and finding out what's happened since and getting back to you all.

    "Why is everyone not on the same page with bereavement?"

    Hannah: They should be! As I said above, definitely one for us to take away and look into. In the past we've had a dedicated bereavement team, at Next we believe in every energy specialist being skilled in all areas of customer service, but this is an ongoing conversation.

    "Why are E.ON Next still asking for wills and death certificates?"

    April: I thought we stopped this, do you know in what situation this was asked for? If so please let the community team know and we can absolutely find out!

    "In your opinion should pineapple belong on pizza?"

    Hannah: Pineapple shouldn't be anywhere! There's only about 3 foods in the world I don't like and pineapple is on that list.

    April: Absolutely, bring it on!!!!

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    "If you had unlimited funds, what would you personally change in the energy industry to make it better for the planet?" 🍃

    Hannah: Make sustainable solutions such as solar, heat pumps etc available to everyone. Due to the costs there's such inequality in who can make these changes which isn't right. I know there's lots of great grants and schemes out there but I'd just start at the top of the country and work down assessing every house as we went!

    April: Not sure I can top that, investigating in self generation and making homes and buildings more efficient. we lose so much energy through poorly insulated windows and walls, if we could kit out every home and building for free it would save millions.

    "What steps are E.ON Next taking to improve customer service?"

    Hannah: This is always going to be an ongoing thing for us at Next as we're so big on continuous improvement. But as a summary of the many things going on in this space:

    • Improvements to recruitment - we've just started using a new system to bring the right people into our business as we've got to get it right from the start
    • Longer training periods - new starter training has gone from 2 weeks to 8 weeks, includes more on the job training and goes deeper into those areas we know our customers need more support on
    • Reviewing skills and additional training camps - we regularly review our specialists, team leaders and operations managers against a set of skills we feel they need to do their job at the expected level. For those not hitting these standards, they join training camps to get them there.
    • Taking it one step further - we're just starting a very exciting programme where we take our best energy specialists and make them even better! They'll be going through intensive training on specific topics which they will then bring back to their teams to spread that knowledge even further.

    April: Adding to the long list above we are also investing in our leaders, the people who help our energy specialists be the best they can be. With the aim that quality coaching centered around customer centricity will help us to have the best energy specialists in the business. We also regularly review our customer journeys and customer feedback to understand customer frustrations and pain points. Because of this we have a number of activities underway to improve these journeys that include digital transformation making our customers lives easier.

    "If you were to describe yourself as a drink what would you be and why?"

    Hannah: Haha 😂 this is my type of question! I'd probably say prosecco, full of fizz and exciting for a few hours then I go flat. The team are always laughing at how early I go to bed and my love of an early night! 🥂

    April: Ooo I would have to say a cup of tea, sturdy, reliable and I love comforting people and that's exactly what I find a cup of tea can do ☕

    "We see it everywhere that having a smart meter can save you money. I would like to know more about how it can actually save me money compared to a normal meter?"

    Hannah: You're right that is out there and the way it's been summerised can make it sound like the actual meter saves you money, it won't. What we do see though is that the IHD helps people become more aware of what they're using, or identify those high use appliances and then use less energy, meaning they save money. If you're already pretty energy savvy then you probably already know a lot of this, so the savings would be a lot less. Still nice to not have to read your meter though! Especially like mine, we've just moved and the gas meter is actually in a hole in the ground. Almost impossible to read myself, thank goodness it's smart and sends reads for me.

    April: To add to what Hannah has mentioned, if the whole of the UK has a smart meter installed it allows us to accurately forecast energy consumption using the data from the meter meaning we only buy what we need and buy at the best price which we can then pass on to our customers. The future ambition of a smart country is cheaper prices, but this relies on every customer going smart.

    Annnnnnd finally..."If you were to host a dinner party with your idols, who would be invited?"

    Hannah: Sooo many! I've taken it as past or present. Michelle Obama (she's who i'd like to be when I grow up), Freddie Mercury, The Queen 👑 (not necessarily an idol but I'd love to attempt to get her drunk and hear her stories), Russell T Davies...I was talking to my daughter about this earlier and she said I also need to invite Rosa Parks and Mary Anning.

    April: Great question...I don't have Idols per say but I do like a laugh so I would invite a bunch of comedians for entertainment.
    Last edited by DebF_EONNext; 10-04-24 at 19:23. Reason: remove featured thread
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