Why putting consumers first is key to business success: A conversation with d.light

This article is part of a series by GOGLA and Sun-Connect News about the importance and impact of consumer protection from different perspectives. This series of articles highlights the importance of the Consumer Protection Code initiated by GOGLA for the off-grid market. More information about the Consumer Protection Code here.

High-performing consumer-centric PAYGo businesses all have good consumer protection at their heart. Each leading off-grid solar company has committed to GOGLA’s Consumer Protection Code, which defines the minimum standard that off-grid solar consumers can expect from their solar energy provider. Balancing responsible business improvements, with portfolio quality, brand building and sustainable growth is not easy, but being consumer-centric and focusing on good quality consumer care can help companies lay strong foundations. 

It’s now been five years since d.light became one of the first companies to make a Commitment to the Consumer Protection Code. They also chair GOGLA’s Consumer Protection Working Group, a platform for the industry to convene, connect and collaborate, share insights and lessons, and build on sector-wide improvements. We recently caught up with Jacob Lewandowski, d.light’s COO, about their consumer protection journey over the years. 

Company benefits from good consumer protection

Insights from across the industry show that companies performing well on consumer protection have higher rates of customer satisfaction, lower challenge rates and consumer repayment burden, and higher collection rates. In short, a happy customer will pay for their Solar Home System (SHS), meaning companies benefit from better portfolio quality and enhanced brand reputation – both of which are attractive to investors.

Jacob says “d.light wholeheartedly committed – and continues to do so – to upholding the Consumer Protection Principles by conducting ethical business which ensures dedication to treating customers with fairness, transparency, and integrity and providing safe, reliable, and effective products to customers. This not only enhances our business reputation and brand, but it also ensures customer satisfaction and experience.” 

He adds that the Consumer Protection Code and assessment tool provided them with a framework for ongoing training and awareness raising on what makes good consumer protection throughout the whole organisation. The company has yielded significant benefits from their consumer protection training, including substantially reducing instances of fraud and improving customer relationships.

How can the Third-party assessment help companies improve their operations?

In Kenya, d.light has recently undertaken a third-party assessment of their performance against the consumer protection principles, which has helped them identify the areas in which they are doing well and which ones they need to improve on. Based on the results, service provider MFR supported the company with a specific action plan to address identified gaps and achieve full compliance, providing training for the management team as well. 

An identified improvement area was data privacy, which is a growing risk for off-grid consumers in our ever-increasing digitalised world. Since identifying the gap, the company has developed a data protection policy and designed and implemented continuous training for its staff, which will help mitigate risks to consumers as well as legal and compliance risks. 

Jacob also reports that since completing the third-party assessment, d.light has doubled down on continuous training for consumer-facing staff and agents. The aim is to ensure that the Consumer Protection Principles are upheld throughout the whole organisation, striving for better customer education and customer service that leads to an overall better customer experience, and is strengthened by a continuous monitoring and improvement system that allows the company to track their progress over time and showcase their achievements.

Ensuring good consumer protection standards can be challenging

Ensuring high consumer protection standards requires time and resources. Although d.light has yet to encounter any significant challenges along their consumer protection journey, it has provided comprehensive consumer protection training to its management team and established action plans for improvement, including a clear monitoring process, demanding budget and capacity considerations.

Nonetheless, the considerable effort it may take to implement and uphold good consumer protection practices also means that a company is on the right path towards responsible and effective business development – which will pay off with sustainable growth and profitability. 

Why should companies make a Commitment to the Consumer Protection Code? 

GOGLA has compiled a summary of the Consumer Protection Code and its benefits for companies (plus consumers and investors) in its Introductory Guide to the Consumer Protection Code, but let’s hear what Jacob thinks: 

I strongly advise other companies, especially those engaging with customers in underserved markets, to embrace the consumer protection principles as a core part of operations. Doing so signifies a commitment to ethical and responsible business practices, but also ensures compliance with the GOGLA Consumer Protection Code and government regulations such as data protection laws. This commitment is crucial for building and maintaining a positive reputation and brand image, and enhances the overall customer experience and satisfaction, fostering greater customer loyalty.”

A growing number of investors and funding programmes now require companies to have made a Commitment to the Consumer Protection Code, and ensuring high standards are upheld can help companies attract new investment. GOGLA invites all consumer-facing organisations within the off-grid solar sector to make a commitment to the Consumer Protection Code so that together, we can create a responsible, buoyant and consumer-centric industry. 



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