Utility Week

UW October Digital edition

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Page 26 of 43

UTILITY WEEK | OCTOBER 2020 | 27 Customers Billpayers under the age of 24 have a more positive overall perception of the water sector than customers in other age bands, according to new research. Echo Managed Services' Generation Z Report: A New Wave of Customers for Water Companies found that the demographic scored water companies highest for being responsible, ethical and authentic. However, as with older customers, affordable bills remains the top priority for Gen Z with 54 per cent saying that outside of providing clean, safe water, this should be the focus for water companies. Yet environmental concerns still remained among the most important pri- orities for the demographic. For Gen Z bill- payers, promoting water conservation and offering water-saving advice and devices is the second most important issue, cited by more than 35 per cent of respondents (compared with 27 per cent for other age brackets). This is followed by investment in water pipes in order to prevent leaks and wast- age (33 per cent). Almost a third (29 per cent) said provid- ing good customer service was a high priority, broadly equal to other consumers (28 per cent). Gen Z billpayers and those aged 25 and over also both prioritised helping households to reduce the amount of water they used, as a resource essential to life – this was selected by 22 per cent of Gen Z bill payers and almost 26 per cent of those aged 25 and over. FOCUS Generation Z and the water sector Talking Points… Movement between supplier groups: In August, of all switches: 44% were from larger to small and mid-tier suppliers 11% were from small and mid-tier to larger suppliers 21% were between larger suppliers 24% were between small and mid-tier suppliers ELECTRICITY SWITCHING In August, a total of 471,441 customers switched – a 17 per cent fall compared to August last year – bringing the total number of switches this year to 3,918,675. Consumer protection and building a high-trust, low-carbon economy Comment Matthew Vickers CEO, Energy Ombudsman Source: Energy UK Total number of switches Aug 18 Oct 18 Dec 18 Feb 19 Apr 19 Jun 19 Aug 19 Oct 19 Dec 19 Feb 20 Apr 20 Jun 20 Aug 20 700,000 600,000 500,000 400,000 300,000 200,000 100,000 0 T he way in which consumers engage with the energy market is transforming before our eyes, and the pace of change looks set to become even more dizzying in the coming years and decades. From heat networks to electric vehi- cles (EVs), smart cities and half-hourly settlement, innovation abounds. The four Ds of the energy transition – decarbonisation, decentralisation, digitalisation, and democratisation – mean the market we know today will be unrecognisable in 30 years' time. Traditional boundaries will become blurred, and new products and ser- vices will emerge with the potential to create a more positive and confi- dent consumer relationship with the market. Of course, when it comes to the (typically unregulated) new prod- ucts and services that will power the energy transition, consumers will need to have the confidence to embrace them – knowing that there are protec- tions and safeguards in place and that they have somewhere to turn for help if something goes wrong. The fact is that in these unregu- lated areas, there simply isn't the wraparound consumer protection – comprising advocacy/advice, regula- tion and redress – that you see in the more traditional, regulated parts of the market. These are exciting times for the energy sector. We're seeing change and innovation on an unprecedented scale. For me, giving consumers the confi- dence to step into the brave new world of unregulated, cutting-edge energy services is vital to unlocking demand. One way of embedding this con- fidence is to ensure that protections, including access to advice and redress, are in place wherever possible. A low-carbon economy needs to be a high-trust economy.

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