As energy bills set to soar, business outsourcer Sigma helps renewable energy Pure Planet manage vulnerable customers

Photo shows: Andrew Ralston, Gary Gilburd, Mark Adams, Sarah Henry and Steven Bengough of Sigma Connected
Sigma Andrew Ralston, Gary Gilburd, Mark Adams, Sarah Henry and Steven Bengough

As energy bill are predicted to rise sharply this winter, a Worcestershire business outsourcing specialist has won a new contract to support a 100 per cent renewable energy supplier to manage its most vulnerable or financially challenged customers through a new service, Reach:Out.

Redditch-based Sigma Connected, provides customer contact services for some of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers. It has won the contract with Pure Planet through Sigma’s Reach:Out service, an initiative that helps customers who are struggling to pay bills to access grants and free money advice, as well as signposting to charities who can help with their wellbeing.

Reach:Out also helps customers understand how their utility suppliers can help with water or fuel poverty as research shows low awareness of this type of support.

The two-year contract award follows a successful four-week pilot of Reach:Out between the two companies, which saw 23 per cent positive engagement from those referred over eight working days. Customers were guided back to Pure Planet so they could work together on a resolution to their debt, as well as connecting with charities such as the Samaritans, StepChange and MIND.

Gary Gilburd, CEO of Sigma Connected, said: “Our Reach:Out team was set up to support and guide customers who are struggling to pay their bills. Our dedicated team of Pathfinders makes contact with the vulnerable customers and then works with them to understand more fully the support that is available to them from their creditors, then further directs them to organisations that can provide the essential help and advice they need.

“Our initial pilot with the team at Pure Planet has been a huge success and has helped a large number of previously unreachable members, so we’re delighted to be taking the next more permanent steps.

“Reach:Out is gaining more and more attention across the utilities, energy and financial sectors as companies are seeing it can give their vulnerable customers a dedicated, hand-picked team who can access financial help, advice and a pathway to general mental health support – also avoiding the need for any debt collection.

“We look forward to helping many more of Pure Planet’s members in the months ahead alongside the team at Pure Planet – a company which has really grasped vulnerability issues.”

Mark Adams, Member Services Director at Pure Planet, added: “Since the start of the pandemic we have put in place a number of measures to work with people in financial difficulties and find the best way forward that prevents debts from escalating.“We have been impressed with the results of the Reach:Out service in supporting our more vulnerable members and are pleased to include it in Pure Planet’s already award-winning customer service offering.“We want to give our members as much support as possible in these hard times and our simple message is that if you are struggling with your bills get in touch with us directly through the app or our online community where there are lots of articles on how to get help and support.”

Launched during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Reach:Out is managed by Sigma’s Sarah Henry and has been shortlisted for a variety of industry awards.