Utility Week

Utility Week 30th September 2016

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Page 26 of 31

UTILITY WEEK | 30TH SEPTEMBER - 6TH OCTOBER 2016 | 27 Customers 1. Identification. Identifying customers who are struggling to pay their energy or water bills remains the biggest challenge. Often customers who are finding it difficult to pay remain anonymous, meaning utilities are unable to provide them with assistance. 2. Cross-sector work. One way utilities are seeking to address the debt problem is by working with other utilities and the third sector. This makes identification easier and helps customers to pay, and the utility to recover at least some of the debt owed. 3. Data. The use of data can help to identify if and when a customer begins to fall into debt. It will also show whether this is a one-off due to unforeseen circumstance or a more regular occurrence, allowing appropriate action to be taken. 4. Trust. Trust with utilities and debt collection agencies is low, so engagement levels are low as well. Building trust will improve customer engagement and help to address the issues of debt. 5. Debt as a whole. Joined-up thinking across utility companies, and other service providers, including banks, is required to fully address the problems of debt. This will allow the issue as a whole to be tackled, improving the customer's circumstance and the recovery of debt. Five key points to take away Mark Fawcitt, credit risk manager and collection strategy lead, Scottish Power Energy Retail "You can go through the entire debt collec- tion process without getting a response – it's the classic problem." Ross Betts, collections system, strategy and segmentation manager, Thames Water "We've got a large group of customers who have never had any contact with us and the question is how do we identify the vulnerable cus- tomers who have never engaged with us particularly when we don't have full customer details, for example just a title and surname?" Daniel Bowles, senior director, head of business development and pre-sales , Fico "Using analytics to track past behaviour and using credit referencing agency info you can find out the likelihood of a customer having problems. You can distinguish lazy pay- ers against someone with more issues and you can use this to stop the problem early." In association with:

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