All change for energy

We recently attended Utility Week’s Energy Customer Conference and are pleased to report that without exception, attendees and speakers agreed that technology presents an opportunity for the industry to reset its relationship with customers and help transform customer engagement and service.

The rollout of smart meters and the introduction of better communication through the use of data analytics and technology platforms will drive the improvements needed to better engage and build stronger relationships with customers.

Speakers agreed that technology presents an opportunity for the industry to reset its relationship with customers.

First Utility’s chief operations officer, Phil Gripton, talked about the need to communicate with customers using new channels and there was consensus that communication, whether through digital channels, social media or over the phone, was the most important tool in providing a good service to customers.

Toni Calder, marketing and communications manager for UK Power Networks, noted the increasing importance of social media because it “creates a lot of engagement really fast”.

Rebecca Sedler director of B2B at EDF Energy, said "the future of successful customer-provider relationships was the sharing of information with customers, working towards a data-led future”.

Simon Everidge, head of sector for utilities at Unipart Expert Practices, suggested that engagement was one “vital ingredient” for driving high levels of customer service.

Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, looked to the future of customer service and engagement, stating that her “vision is that the UK is seen as the place to experience great customer service”.

The speakers throughout the conference supported Ofgem’s Salter-Church, who predicted that the energy market is “at an inflection point… on the brink of a transformational change”.

Phil Gripton, chief operations officer, First Utility said

“We need to communicate with them on a channel that they choose. Give them knowledge and insight about their usage, then we can integrate those pieces together and people start to feel like we are a partner, rather than a provider.”