Utility Week

UTILITY Week 30th January 2015

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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UTILITY WEEK | 30Th JanUarY - 5Th FEbrUarY 2015 | 23 Customers The speakers Dame Yve Buckland chair, CCWater "I think I can see this utility starting to differentiate itself from the deep customer disquiet that can be seen in energy and transport. We absolutely can't afford to be complacent. It's very easy to derail water." Claire Sharp customer director, northumbrian Water "Ultimately the water sector is a customer service industry, and to deliver outcomes successfully in the next AMP and beyond that's the mindset we need to nurture." Stuart Allan head of transport and utilities, Sopra Steria "Your customers are never going to love you. They will never love you because the product and service you provide doesn't have an emotional connection." Anna Bradley former chair, Southern Water customer challenge group "The water industry is like a tanker of sorts and while it's definitely started to turn, there is a long way to go." Gary Dixon domestic retail director, United Utilities "Historically we've been an organisation Richard Khaldi senior director of casework and policy, Ofwat "We need to build on what's been achieved in PR14 and compa- nies must continue to strengthen the relationship they have built up with customers and stake- holders." Key points Listening to and engaging with the customer is now a given, but issues around the best ways of doing this remain. Strong, structured engagement is not only important for customers but also for internal business communications. Make it easy: make it easy for people to get in touch and engage. Make it personal: give personal feed- back to staff, listen to feedback from customers, especially when it's a negative experience. Try to use the engagement as a way to turn the situa- tion around. Make it happen: often individual enthusiasts are ready for a change of culture before the business is. Get IT on side and take time to really understand customer pain points. Invest in training, standardise processes and create a common language for engagement. Vincent Muldoon customer relations director, Affinity Water "I think we can emotionalise our product. It's not easy but I think we can, and by doing so it makes engagement that bit easier." that has thought it has known what's best for customers and we've thought we know what custom- ers need. That's not the right way to go."

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