When Ben Freund and co-founder Leora Freund launched electricity and gas price comparison site GoSwitch in 2008, they broke new ground in the market.
Few other companies were looking at the pros and cons of the major service providers, and some of the big utilities players weren’t too thrilled.
Now six years later, Ben Freund tells SmartCompany the site has around 40,000 visitors each month, and most utility providers have come to accept the concept of price comparison.
GoSwitch turned over around $8 million last financial year, and Freund says it is on track for further growth. It hasn’t been without challenges, and he reveals how tough government regulation on the sector, as well as becoming a father to twins, has kept him on his toes.
When we launched GoSwitch a lot of power companies did not welcome price comparison for obvious reasons, and we didn’t know if consumers would take to it. The consumers did take to it and the power companies followed.
The power companies have increasingly emulated some of our marketing, and adopted the sort of language that we use. If you visit the websites of various power retailers you will see again and again the word ‘compare’. Or ‘switch’. So their marketing departments are changing to how consumers are now thinking.
As the market has expanded, there have been more competitors as well. Some are comparators, some are brokers, some are telemarketers masquerading as comparators – all sorts of things.
Back then in our call centre we had four or five people, now we have around 50. We had most of our team members in Melbourne, while now the vast majority are located in Manila. Not just the call centre, but the back office functions as well.
There are a multitude of reasons for that, cost being only one. There is much lower staff turnover there. We have people who have worked for us for years, and that allows you to invest in staff and skills and knowledge for each person, which makes the service for each consumer better. We’ve grown everything from training to HR, and a customer service team.
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