Iren Group proposes to its customers a complete offer portfolio which, starting from historically managed activities, incorporates new solutions and technologies to meet energy management needs and the well-being of residents, companies and Public Administrations. The service is managed through an efficient sales network, consisting of a widespread network of counters and call centres available to households and small businesses, as well as specialists dedicated to large companies, which are also able to support energy supply with consultancy and assistance activities on tariffs and contracts.
Commercial activities aimed at retail customers are aimed at building loyalty and developing new territorial areas. Sales activities are managed through various channels: teleselling and physical agencies where the utmost attention is paid to monitoring and controlling sales partners, through quality call, confirmation call and courtesy call processes carried out on 100% of contractual proposals, in order to guarantee a correct commercial approach that complies with current codes of conduct, procedures and company regulations. In addition to these, the web sales channel has seen a strong and progressive development in 2021, as well as an important increase in the range of offers concerning sustainable mobility products, home and personal services. The growth of the web channel is mainly due to the assistance and sales service through chat, thanks to the activation of an AI Bot (robots with artificial intelligence), among the most performing in the energy field, which is able to identify the most frequent topics and direct the customer towards the most appropriate information or towards human support, collecting in the meantime the information to offer a higher quality service.
In 2021, the Group initiated the conversion of electricity supplies to retail customers to 100% supplies from renewable sources at no additional cost. Thanks to its production assets, Iren Group, in fact, can offer certified 100% green energy with a guarantee of origin, confirming its sustainability policies.
The commodity market scenario has been characterised, even in 2021, by extreme volatility. In this context, the Group has maintained, thanks to an effective portfolio of dedicated offers, its presence in the segment of large energy customers, supporting the promotion of green offers for the supply of electricity produced entirely from renewable sources, as well as the first pilot projects aimed at offsetting CO2 emissions from gas supplies that allow business customers to promote their environmental commitment.
Marketing and caring campaigns
In 2021, the communication strategies identified as part of the social media project, launched in 2020, were consolidated, focusing on the following objectives: greater differentiation by channel and development of campaigns on a monthly basis aimed at brand awareness and lead generation in order to support the promotion of commodity products, Iren Plus and IrenGO products, aimed at potential customers.
Iren Mercato combined the advertising campaigns on the Google search engine (Google Ads) with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) activities, with the aim of improving the positioning of the website in the search engine results. Google Ads and SEO activities had a significant impact not only on sales, but also on Iren Mercato brand awareness. In addition, the optimisation of SEM (Search Engine Marketing) campaigns was fundamental to the development of the web channel, enabling a significant increase in the number of contracts to be recorded compared with the previous year.
Social media activity, in continuity with the path taken in previous years, continued with the collaboration of influencers and programming aimed at reaching a wider audience. In 2021, digital and physical events were organised, mainly in the industry, dedicated to the presentation of services and products related to electric mobility and energy efficiency.
2021 was also the year of the launch of the new loyalty program “Be Iren”, which aims to bring customers closer to the Group’s values, including environmental sustainability, with an engagement path through gamification.
The range of products made available in the Iren- GO and Iren Plus offers promotes the improvement of the customer’s health and safety, starting from home safety up to that of the person, and the quality of the urban environment.
In 2021, the Group further implemented the range of Iren Plus offers: home services, home automation products, internet connection and energy and consumption efficiency products. The development of the range continued with the aim of offering high quality solutions, with a strong focus on the rationalisation of energy consumption and environmental sustainability.
The offer of Iren Plus products, such as photovoltaic systems, condensing boilers, air conditioners, fixtures and thermal coats, the environmental benefits of which are illustrated on page 146, was significantly strengthened in 2021 thanks to superbonus and ecobonus introduced by the Italian Legislative Decree no. 34/2020. Iren Plus products are offered through traditional sales channels, teleselling, physical agencies, e-commerce, call centres, counters, with dedicated display stands and, for complex products such as photovoltaic systems, boilers and thermal coats, through a sales network of agents.
In the field of home automation, the attention has been focused on the integration of the latest technological devices (Smart Kit) for the remote monitoring of the house: thanks to the dedicated app, customers can manage lighting, reducing costs for inefficiencies, check for gas or water leaks and verify external intrusions.
2021 was a year of growth and further consolidation of the business line dedicated to electric mobility IrenGO, which offers not only products and services, but also a complete consultancy to all customers (consumer, business and Public Administration). Thanks to partnerships and agreements with selected companies throughout Italy, a wide range of recharging infrastructures for private customers (wall boxes and columns) has been created. In addition, the Group has begun installing public charging infrastructures that will form an important part of the network of charging stations in our country. The most significant projects concern the Group’s main areas of operation: Vercelli, where the project has been completed, Reggio Emilia, in the design phase, while in the cities of Turin, Parma, Genoa and La Spezia work has begun. In addition, an own management software platform has been created, through which it is possible to interact with the recharging systems and a mobile app for the provision of the service to end customers on the recharging stations and columns of the main operators on the Italian market.
Iren also offers electric cars for rent, and light mobility means such as pedal-assisted bicycles and electric kick scooters for the sustainable mobility of customers. In 2021, the partnership relationship with MiMoto was consolidated for the provision of scooter sharing service in Turin and Genoa and with Dott for the sharing of kick scooters in Turin and Rome.
The energy that powers the electric vehicles and charging systems is 100% certified renewable. To strengthen this element of coherence with sustainable mobility, formulas have been developed for the supply of electricity from renewable sources that the customer can combine directly with the electric mobility offers with a discount on the supply invoice, such as the “IrenGO Bonus Luce Verde” formula.
Finally, in 2021, Iren proposed to the Municipality of Genoa the Valpolcevera project, which consists in the conversion of a public transport line of traditional buses with full electric vehicles, with the installation of recharging infrastructures, the maintenance service and the supply of electric energy to recharge the vehicles.
Other innovative products
As part of the home services, several new products and offers have been launched:
- Casa h24 plus, an enrichment of the package of assistance services for the home provided by Covercare with the inclusion of an AXA Assistance insurance policy to cover the breakdown of household appliances;
- Iren Revolution Luce Verde, supply of electricity 100% from renewable sources at a single fixed price for all time slots, with the inclusion of an AXA Assistance insurance policy that guarantees 24-hour intervention by craftsmen for small breakdowns in the home and a bonus of 30 Euro on the electricity bill;
- Iren 4 Zampe, a combination of pet products and services and a complimentary veterinary surgery policy;
- Iren casa online, in partnership with Linkem, through which Iren Group proposes itself as the sole supplier for internet connectivity and electricity. The customer who subscribes to the offer has priority access to Linkem support. In 2021, the “Iren Fibra Pura” offering for fiber connectivity provided by Open Fiber was launched.
Communications to customers comply with the principles of clarity and transparency provided by the Code of Ethics and Code of Business Conduct, with the objective of placing the customer in a position to be able to make an informed choice.
Iren Group fully complies with the guidelines of the Code of Business Conduct for the sale of electricity and natural gas to end customers, formulated by ARERA, the Italian Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and Environment, which regulates sales outside of the commercial premises, i.e. activities of physical door-to-door companies and at commercial stands and teleselling and webselling to promote energy contracts.
As part of the contractual relationship, the Group requires external promotion companies (door-to-door companies, telesellers and websellers) to comply with the regulations and procedures of the sector and, more specifically, requires compliance with ARERA’s Code of Business Conduct, the Consumer Code, as well as Iren Group’s Code of Ethics, Model 231 and Quality Policy. In addition, it implements control systems on contract promotion that are also stricter compared to sector regulations.
The agency selection process takes place on the basis of a rigorous examination of the requirements, which must include:
- the possession of all permits, licences and registrations for conducting commercial agency activities (including registration in the National Register of Commercial Agents);
- the availability of a back office to monitor and train agents, conduct the preliminary verification of contracts acquired and verify customer awareness via check-calls;
- the knowledge of the local market and technical and organisational expertise.
It is only once the formal and technical verifications have had a positive outcome that an agency contract or a commercial collaboration contract is signed.
All agency collaborators receive adequate training on the regulations governing the sector and the codes of conduct to adopt. This training is divided into different sections (gas market, electricity market, offer type, Code of Business Conduct) and the first session is held in the presence of Group sales staff. The activity of the agencies is monitored and controlled at various levels and in different ways depending on the type of activity performed, the method of signing and acceptance of the contract. In order to verify the correct operation of suppliers, as provided for in the mandate, the Group carries out controls through quality calls on the activity carried out by door-to-door companies to confirm that contact has been made with the agent and that the contractual proposal has been accepted. Alternatively, in 2018 instant calls were introduced, a quality call carried out on average within 2 hours of the contract being signed, for more timely and effective control of the sales activity. With regard to telesellers and activities deriving from webselling, a third party is appointed to make calls to check customer awareness concerning the proposal accepted (welcome calls, courtesy calls and confirmation calls).
Pursuing a policy of transparency and protection of the customer’s true wishes, Iren Group offers customers with telephone contracts the option of listening to their own telephone recording by accessing a dedicated section on the company website using personal login details.
Lastly, to verify that the companies work in compliance with contractual obligations and, specifically, in compliance with the Company’s self-regulatory documentation (Code of Ethics, Model 231, operational procedures), visits are made periodically to the sales offices, the results of which are presented and discussed at the process committee.
The organisation of Iren Mercato also provides for a specific structure dedicated to analysing customer complaints concerning external channels of sales. These complaints can result in the application of penalties and, in more serious cases, the dismissal of the agent, with a ban on working for Iren Mercato, even through other agencies, up to the possible resolution of the agency mandate.
Commercial and marketing activities are conducted in accordance with principles of fairness and transparency, in full compliance with all regulations on privacy and personal data protection (EU Regulation 2016/679 – GDPR, Italian Legislative Decree 196/2003). To this end:
- the processing of customers’ personal data in accordance with freely given and collected consents is guaranteed;
- the processing of personal data on behalf of Iren Mercato is permitted only to persons appointed in writing as external data controllers (Art. 28 of the GDPR);
Moreover, in order to guarantee the exercise of the rights provided for by the GDPR, the Group makes available communication channels and facilities dedicated to the reception and management of requests regarding access, rectification, cancellation, restriction of processing, portability and opposition to the processing of personal data.
In compliance with the principles of anti-competitive behaviour, Iren Mercato does not conduct any commercial or promotional action towards customers who are part of the protected market, limiting its activities to its customers in the free market or prospective contacts acquired under regulations.
Electricity tariffs are made up of the costs associated with the energy raw material and the commercial activities of the distribution companies (procurement and commercialization), the charges associated with transporting electricity on national and local distribution networks, the costs of managing metering activities, general system charges and taxes.
In the free market, the seller expresses its offer by differentiating itself from competitors in the share of supply and commercialisation costs, as the other components are subject to single national standards and tariffs established by ARERA and the State.
In 2021, the annual expenditure per typical family (3 kW meter and annual consumption of 2,700 kWh) served in the protected market amounted to 631 Euro (source: ARERA).
In 2021, Iren Group, thanks also to the beneficial dialogue started in the last months of the year with the Consumers’ Associations, has activated concrete initiatives to support its customers in relation to the increase in the cost of electricity and gas, such as the possibility of resorting, even before the government intervention, to instalments at more favourable conditions, for bills that make payments difficult. In December, a particularly advantageous offer for electricity at a fixed price (Fisso&Basso - Fixed & Low) was launched, dedicated to protected market customers, who have been most affected by the increase in the raw material, which can be activated directly through online channels.
Electricity social bonus
With effect from 1 January 2021, ARERA has defined new criteria for the recognition of the social bonus on the domestic supply of electricity to citizens/ families in conditions of economic hardship. In order to activate automatic recognition (from July 2021) of social bonuses, it is necessary for those entitled to present an annual self-declaration, regarding the family unit and any income and assets, for access to a subsidised service (e.g. maternity allowance, school canteen, etc.) and obtain an ISEE (Equivalent Economic Situation) indicator within the access threshold, or be holders of a citizenship income/pension. The bonus is also provided for in cases in which a serious disease requires the use of indispensable electrical medical equipment to keep them alive (physical problems).
The bonus values that also allowed a 30% reduction in the bill in 2021 were:
- 174 Euro for a family of 1 or 2 members;
- 206 Euro for a family of 3 or 4 members;
- 241 Euro for a family of more than 4 members.
|Electricity social bonus||2021||Amount (Euro)|
|Number of bonuses awarded||96,098||13,630,730|
Electricity sales service quality
The commercial quality standards are dictated by ARERA (Res. 413/2016 Integrated Text on the Quality of Sales Services - TIQV) refer to how promptly the seller provides some services requested by customers (replies to written complaints and requests for information, correction of bills, etc.).
The seller must comply with specific standards (beyond which, customers are entitled to automatic compensation) and general standards (for which a certain percentage of performance is required, and no automatic compensation is paid). Data relevant to the individual companies are published in order to allow customers to compare the service levels offered.
The 2021 average response time to written complaints reflects a more efficient customer management process, as the 2020 performance was impacted by the temporary reduction in staffing due to the health emergency.
|Response to written complaints (days)||2021||2020||2019||ARERA max time|
To constantly monitor its commercial quality, the Group considers it strategic to monitor customer satisfaction (see page 198).
Gas tariffs comply with ARERA regulations (Integrated Text on Gas Sale – TIVG and Single Text– TUDG/RTDG), State laws concerning Gas Excise Duties and VAT and Regional laws concerning the additional regional tax (ARISGAM) applied to natural gas. Gas tariffs are made up of the costs related to the energy raw material and commercial activities managed by the sales company (procurement and commercialisation) and the component related to costs for gas transport into national and local distribution networks, which cover the costs of the national transporter and the local network operator. In addition to these, there are national taxes and regional additional taxes as well as general system charges. In the free market, the seller expresses its offer by differentiating itself from competitors in the share of supply and commercialisation costs since the other components are subject to single national standards and tariffs established by ARERA and the State.
In 2021, the annual expenditure per typical family (annual consumption of 1,400 scm) served with a protection tariff stood at 1,130 Euro (source: ARERA).
As in the case of electricity, in order to mitigate the effects of price increases due to sharp rises in the cost of raw materials and higher consumption during the winter season, the Group offered more favourable instalment terms for bills that make it difficult for households to pay, strengthened direct contact channels with customers via local counters, and further expanded the channels for acquiring gas self-metering to facilitate the accurate recording of actual consumption.
Gas social bonus
With effect from 1 January 2021, ARERA has defined new criteria for the recognition of the social bonus on the domestic supply of gas to citizens/families in conditions of economic hardship. In order to activate automatic recognition of social bonuses, it is necessary for those entitled to present an annual self-declaration, regarding the family unit and any income and assets, for access to a subsidised service (e.g. maternity allowance, school canteen, etc.) and obtain an ISEE (Equivalent Economic Situation) indicator within the access threshold, or be holders of a citizenship income/pension. The process for the automatic recognition of social gas bonuses has been in place since July 2021, first for direct supplies and, later, for households using condominium supplies (the system excludes the presence of direct supply already in the name of one of the members of the household).
The gas bonus applies only to methane gas distributed to the network for home-of-residence consumption and not cylinder gas or LPG.
|Gas social bonus||2021||Amount (Euro)|
|Number of bonuses awarded||67,223||6,581,016|
Gas sales service quality
As for electricity, the quality standards for gas sales are dictated by ARERA (Res. 413/2016 Integrated Text on the Quality of Sales Services – TIQV) and provide for compliance by the seller with specific standards and general standards in the performance of certain services required by the customer.
The average time to respond to complaints in 2021 is down from 2020, when there was an exceptional increase in complaints.
|Response to written complaints (days)||2021||2020||2019||ARERA max time|