Utility Week

UTILITY Week 16th December 2016

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Page 26 of 31

Customers This week Business Stream and Utilitywise tie-up Business Stream and consultancy Utilitywise hope their proposition will appeal to SMEs Business Stream has teamed up with energy consultancy Utility- wise to offer business customers a multi-utility service. The companies said the new offer will enable business customers to secure "exclusive deals" for their electricity, gas and water, with access to smart online tools that will let them "take control of their utility spend". The offer will be available to customers in Scotland initially, and will be introduced in England when the retail water market opens in April 2017. The companies said they want to "lead the market" with their approach to providing utility services. Busi- ness Stream will provide water services and Utilitywise will offer energy. Business Stream chief executive Jo Dow said: "This is an innovative, triple utility offer designed to appeal to SME customers, enabling them to save time, money and effort. This new partnership makes it easier for custom- ers to buy all their essential utilities in one place and to manage their accounts online at a time and place which suits them." Utilitywise chief executive Brendan Flattery said: "With more than 30,000 customers across the UK, Util- itywise brings significant expertise in helping businesses to get better value from their utility suppliers. "This partnership will provide Business Stream cus- tomers with access to competitive energy prices as well as cutting edge technologies and services to help them reduce utility consumption." LV ENERGY Suppliers voice fears about CMA database Most of the big six suppliers and some independents have shared their concerns about a data- base that would let suppliers target marketing at disengaged consumers. Centrica, SSE, Npower, Eon and EDF said the sharing of con- sumer data may not comply with data protection law and could erode trust in the industry. Inde- pendents Ecotricity, Utilita and Good Energy also have concerns. The suppliers submitted written responses to a dra order consultation on how the database-sharing remedy from the Competition and Markets Authority will be implemented. WATER Charges for water connections updated Ofwat has published new rules to make the charges for new water connections to housing developments in England "fairer, simpler and clearer". The regulator said this approach marks a "significant change" and is expected to deliver "major benefits" to devel- opers and other customers. The rules will come into effect in April 2018, a year later than proposed in the consulta- tion. This is to allow the industry "time to plan" for the transition. As part of the new rules, water companies will offer more fixed charges. They will also make sure developers do not pay for pre-existing issues, and only pay on a pro-rata basis for assets that benefit a wider set of customers. Ofwat said there will also be "more effective competition" from self-lay and new appointees, which can "drive down costs and improve service and choice". The changes should result in faster connections because water companies will set charges that are simpler and quicker to calculate. ENERGY Economy Energy in smart meter drive National Grid Smart and sup- plier Economy Energy are to install 50,000 smart meters in customers' homes in 2017. The rollout is in response to the government's requirement for energy companies to offer every household a smart meter by 2020. National Grid Smart and Economy Energy will install 50,000 meters during 2017, and work will continue until 2020. Simon Jamieson, head of business development at National Grid Smart, said: "This initial installation of meters is the beginning of what we see as a long-term partnership." Economy Energy supplies gas and electricity to 180,000 customers. Multi-utility offering for SMEs I am the customer Jo Causon "Disaffected staff could be turning customers away" Research from The Institute of Customer Service reveals that just 25 per cent of UK employees feel actively engaged in their job. This has barely changed in over 20 years, and today's customers are turning away from organisations where staff appear disengaged. The message for the boardroom is, therefore, as straightforward as it is stark: disaffected employees could be turning customers away. Boardrooms should be mak- ing every effort to understand make the customer feel valued. Organisations must prior- tise employee engagement. If teams are not given the tools or environment to deliver a great customer experience, boards should not be surprised to see their customer numbers and bot- tom line affected. Jo Causon, chief executive, Institute of Customer Service ICS will be speaking at Utility Week's Energy Customer confer- ence in January. Details: events. utilityweek.co.uk/energy the link between employees and customers because employee engagement has become more important to customer satisfac- tion and business performance. Customer expectations have heightened – particu- larly around speed, ease and convenience – meaning that their demands for personalised, authentic experiences place added pressure on customer- facing employees. A good experience cannot be achieved through processes or the use of technology alone; it depends on motivated, com- mitted employees who display empathy, act in the moment to solve problems and seek ways to UTILITY WEEK | 16TH - 22ND DECEMBER 2016 | 27

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