Utility Week

UTILITY Week 1st April 2016

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Customers This week Age UK questions the CMA's remedies Elderly customers could see a 'deluge of mail' if energy suppliers are forced to share their data Age UK has raised questions over the Competition and Markets Authority's provisional remedies for the energy market, suggest- ing elderly customers could be le confused by a "deluge of mail" following the CMA's recommendation that energy suppliers be forced to share their data on so-called sticky customers with rivals. Age UK special adviser Mervyn Kohler told Utility Week that the data sharing remedy will "impact on a lot of older people". Kohler said: "An awful lot of the sticky customers in the system are older people who have never actually bothered to move away from their historic energy pro- vider. We are a bit concerned about the potential deluge of mail shots and sells that they will receive. "I think there is a fundamental gap in the CMA's judgement in appreciating how much the older popula- tion will have to learn to take advantage of the new market they are trying to establish." Kohler also said that he dreaded the day there are "five or six hundred different tariffs in the marketplace and we will have to manage to explain to our older population how to navigate their way around that" as a result of the CMA's proposed removal of the four-tariff rule, which limited the tariffs suppliers could offer. "We are going to have to push water uphill here to actually explain to the older population what all the dif- ferent tariffs mean in general terms and this bewildering new choice which will be open to all of us at some point in the near future," he added. SJ WATER Thames more than doubles Scots share Thames Water's business retail arm has more than doubled the size of its Scottish customer base in the past year to 1,300 commer- cial sites, as it prepares to ramp up its activity in the English non-household retail market. Head of the Scottish Thames Water Commercial Services (TWCS) team, Alan Munro, said he believes 2016 could be the "biggest year yet" for the company in terms of new client growth. "It is hugely pleasing that we were able to grow our customer base so significantly while offering unparalleled service to clients in almost every sector imaginable," he said. "To now have in excess of 1,300 sites on our books – sur- passing what we thought was a hugely ambitious target to double up from our initial port- folio of 600 sites – in our first year with our new team speaks volumes [for the] quality of the TWCS service offering." ENERGY Big six lose 3.6 per cent market share New data from Cornwall Energy has revealed that the big six energy firms have lost 3.6 per cent of their overall market share in the past year. The report also shows that the big six dual fuel market share has fallen by 3.9 per cent compared with last year, while independents reached 15 per cent for the first time, up from 0.6 per cent five years ago. In the past 12 months, almost 1.45 million energy customer accounts le the big six and 1.87 million went to independent providers, due to an additional 420,000 energy accounts being added as a result of new homes connecting to the grid. Cornwall Energy director Robert Buckley said: "The independents have achieved dramatic results in driving engagement and encouraging people to switch." WATER South East launches interactive bill South East Water has launched an online interactive bill to explain the different terms and sections shown to customers. The firm redesigned its bill two years ago, following feedback from customers. The new interactive bill will allow customers to click on the various sections and read explanations about what that particular piece of information means. The company's customer services director Steve George said: "We want to make receiv- ing, understanding and paying a water bill as simple as possible." Sticky situation: elderly could be left confused I am the customer Nicola Eaton Sawford "Prepare your company for complaints via third parties" I am the customer and I've found an easier way to complain. In future, I'm going to use an online tool such as Resolver to save me time, reduce my effort and maybe get me a better outcome. Resolver is an interesting disruptor, attractive to customers who have an increasing propen- sity to complain, alongside ever increasing demands on their time. You can guarantee others will follow. It enables customers to log their complaint swily using a policy, process and timelines is correct? If it's not, it's time to get it updated so it works better. I am the customer and a com- plaint is my gi to you – a unique insight into how to improve your business, make me more loyal and more satisfied. It is an oppor- tunity to make things right for me and other customers. Please accept my gi, even if someone else, such as Resolver, delivers it. Nicola Eaton Sawford, managing director, Customerwhisperers.com template, armed with knowledge about their rights. The online tool automatically chases and escalates the complaint. It even tells the customer when it's time to engage the Ombudsman. The onerous task of making complaints has become less so – and that increases customers' propensity to bother raising one. Are you properly geared up for complaints via third parties? Will it confuse your systems with an unusual email address? Will that overwrite my real email address on your system? That sounds problematic. Have you made sure the information Resolver is giving out about your company's complaints 26 | 1ST - 7TH APRIL 2016 | UTILITY WEEK

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