Utility Week

UTILITY Week 10th February 2017

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

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Page 26 of 31

UTILITY WEEK | 10Th - 16Th FEbrUarY 2017 | 27 Customers Market view U tility companies are regular dwellers at the bottom of customer satisfac- tion surveys. Last year energy firms dominated the worst-performing companies for customer satisfaction in a Which? poll. However, another poll showed that change may be coming. The latest UK Customer Sat- isfaction Index (UKCSI) from the Institute of Customer Service echoed Which? and gave utilities the second lowest score of 13 sectors of the economy, but the survey also showed that utilities have improved levels of customer satisfaction more than any other industry in the UK in the past 12 months. Utility companies are facing the very real threat of disintermediation. What happens when brands that are used to fighting for the loyalty of every last customer then have to compete with new entrants from outside, such as Tesco or Amazon entering the sec- tor? These new entrants are companies that have started to use data intelligently to pro- vide tailored and smart customer service. And while utility companies have a wealth of data that could be mined, they have so far failed to make proper use of the information they hold or to connect the back and front end of their operations. So how can utility companies begin to tackle the problem and build their customer loyalty? Companies need to be harnessing and utilising the power of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is massively expanding, with the market size for IoT devices predicted to reach 20.8 billion by 2020. As a result, the quan- tity and quality of real-time information available in the sector is richer than ever, generated from a diverse range of devices in the public and private realm. IoT offers the opportunity for utilities to connect assets and gather data in real time, which can then be analysed to create actionable insights. Those devices can be used to radically change the customer experience, improv- ing service offerings and moving towards a "servitisation" business model that supports utility companies' commodities. For example, sensors can be used to monitor devices and appliances, sending an alert in real time if they are going to fail or become inefficient, automatically calling out an engineer, saving both time and money for the company and the customer. For customers, they will be able to have maintenance performed on their appliances before any damage occurs. This will change the nature of utility companies' offerings because the pastime tasks of checking and monitoring components is reduced as they become automated. Companies can then focus on making things continue to work rather than fixing them once they have failed, and bring customer service to the next level, making them stand out from among their competitors. These real-time data feeds and alerts will enable utility companies and their work- forces to provide a more proactive service, which will build new relationships with cus- tomers and strengthen existing ones. The challenge that utility companies are facing is to create robust systems and pro- cesses and be more digitally-led to match the needs of the modern consumer. These changes will enable organisations to exploit the new wealth of data to gain action- able intelligence to understand trends, react quickly to changing conditions and predict and prepare for future events. It will also enable them to make more information avail- able to customers – boosting transparency in a sector that is rarely heralded for that trait and, ultimately, helping customers manage energy usage. With the market open to new entrants, if utility providers do not act now it will be too late and they will lose the bat- tle for the customer. The key to winning that battle is data intelligence. Tom Roche, managing director of the Manufacturing, Utilities & Services Sector, Fujitsu UK & Ireland Exploiting data intelligence How should utility companies tackle the problem of building customer loyalty, especially when companies from outside the sector enter it? Tom Roche provides some answers. Overall custOmer satisfactiOn by sectOr retail (non-food) leisure transport telecoms & media utilities automotive retail (food) tourism services insurance 79.4 78.2 77.5 74.4 79.5 80.2 81.3 82.5 78.8 79.6 74.7 73.6 74.4 78.7 77.5 73.0 73.8 78.0 79.7 81.1 82.0 78.8 79.0 73.5 72.6 72.8 banks & building societies Public services (local) Public services (national) January 2017 January 2016 Source: Institute of Customer Service tOP fOur differentiatOrs fOr high scOring OrganisatiOns High performing organisations tend to perform better across the range of over 30 customer experience metrics Staff doing what they say they will do The attitude of staff Staff understanding the issue The outcome of the complaint 7.0 6.9 6.9 6.8

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