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Vibb constantly works to reduce friction in customer relationships

The electricity supplier Vibb has quickly gone from being a small player to a top 10 company in Norway. The key to success is automation and digitalization, as well as optimizing the customer journey.

Odd Egil Orøy

Product Manager

Invoicing is an ongoing source of additional work for the customer service department and therefore an important element to deliver as frictionlessly as possible for Vibb.

"Our goal is to create excellent digital customer experiences, and the desired outcome of delivering on that goal is growth," states CEO Erik Berg Solheim of Vibb.

The electricity company, owned by Å Energi, came into existence on October 1, 2020. When the power crisis hit in 2021, the company had only a few customers. In December of the same year, a series of coinciding system failures occurred, and the company entered 2022 with half of its customer base.

- "We changed our approach and relaunched the company as one of the smaller companies in Norway. Now we are among the top ten," says Solheim.

Making it easy to be a customer

Vibb stands out among the multitude of electricity providers by not having any markup on the spot price and no monthly fee. There are also no other fees or surcharges, including invoice fees or fees for payment deferment. Vibb has an app that is freely available to everyone, but Vibb+, which costs 39 NOK per month, activates various additional services within the Vibb app.

The electricity market is characterized by strong competition, and in such a market, it is important to have the lowest possible cost per customer.

Erik Berg Solheim is focused on doing as much as possible with what the company itself controls in order to offer a customer relationship with minimal friction.

- "We can't control when the spot price is high and grid prices are through the roof, but what we can do is ensure that it is as easy as possible to be a Vibb customer," he emphasizes.

The devil is in the details

Simplicity and minimal friction between the customer and the supplier, combined with the lowest possible cost per customer, is an equation that does not always add up. Vibb's answer is automation and digitalization to achieve economies of scale, as well as a streamlined organization that does not grow in proportion to an increasing customer base.

- "Technology and digitalization are the only things that truly provide economies of scale. In addition, we innovate on the organizational side. We have only three managers: myself, the technical manager, and the marketing manager. Customer service has no manager; it is a team whose task is to solve customer challenges in order to reduce friction," says Solheim.

According to Solheim, Vibb had as many customer service inquiries in November 2023 as it did in January 2023, despite having three times as many customers in November.

- "We are quick to rectify and improve things based on customer feedback, because those are the things that create friction," he says.

Erik Berg Solheim, CEO of Vibb

Customers receive invoices in their preferred channel

Invoice-related questions are a common occurrence when it comes to customer service inquiries. Vibb receives invoice data from the industry system EnoroCX and has collaborated with Tietoevry for invoice distribution since the company's inception.

"Invoicing is a perpetual friction point. Invoice distribution may not be as exciting compared to the cool services we can offer for smart power management, but it is still incredibly important. Tietoevry is a very good partner when it comes to ongoing improvements to reduce the friction between us and our customers," says Solheim.

Tietoevry distributes invoices via Multichannel, ensuring that end-customers receive invoices in their preferred way.

- "Our task is to digitize perfectly when sending out invoices. If a recipient is present in a digital channel in Norway, we will find that person. If they are not there or have opted not to be digital, the customer will receive a paper invoice. We aim to do this seamlessly so that the customer gets the invoice in their preferred channel. If they don't receive the invoice where they want, they become dissatisfied," says Odd Egil Orøy, Product Manager at Tietoevry.

Taking initiative to find solutions

Erik Berg Solheim explains that when Vibb started out, Tietoevry was chosen because they were the only ones able to offer the desired functionality for invoice distribution.

- "That was before eInvoice 2.0, and the value proposition was that you as a customer would receive the first invoice as an eInvoice. Now it has become the standard. Invoice distribution is ranked with automatic payment on top, followed by eInvoice, email, and finally paper invoice," he says.

According to Orøy, the volume of paper invoices is negligible:

- "Last autumn, out of tens of thousands of invoices sent out, only one was a paper invoice. With an ever-increasing volume, we are now at 15-20 paper invoices. It is a fraction of a percent, which is absorbed by the total volume. We share Vibb's mindset and handle the increase in volume without increasing resource usage, in order to provide economies of scale for them," he says.

The Vibb CEO highlights the process of implementing automatic payment with self-notification as a good example of a small thing that helps reduce friction between the electricity provider and customers.

- "We have always had automatic payment, but previously, the customers had to go into our app to find the invoice basis. With self-notification, the customer receives a copy of the invoice as an eInvoice, email, or letter. It was an additional cost for us, but we did it because it reduced friction for those who wanted it that way," he says, adding:

- "When a customer contacts us or complains about something, we like to jump in and fix it. In doing so, we hope the customer becomes an ambassador who can tell others that they were successful in making a change. When it comes to invoice distribution, we reach out to Tietoevry with all kinds of inquiries, which are then followed up by their support team."

Maintaining humility

Solheim states that Vibb must offer the payment options that customers want to use.

- "We would love to be even more innovative, but alternatives like cards or Vipps currently have exorbitant transaction fees. We know that Tietoevry is testing and gaining experience with new alternatives in this area along with other customers, and it's great that they are innovative. On our part, we must be absolutely sure that customers pay only once in their chosen payment channel. If there is any confusion there, it creates friction," he says.

On the road ahead, Solheim emphasizes that Vibb should maintain humility towards customers' choice of electricity provider and work hard to ensure continued excellent digital customer experiences.

"In light of that, we also choose suppliers who can help us deliver on that goal," he concludes.

Read more about Vibb here.

Would you like to learn more about Multichannel?

How does your company communicate with your customers? Reach your customers with personalized communication at the time of payment with Live Invoice. Let them choose the communication channel themselves, how they want to receive the invoice, and how they wish to pay: Digipost, Vipps e-invoice, SMS, email, print, and mail.

Read more about our Multichannel services here or contact Lasse Brandal, Customer Service Manager.

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