This one day specialist conference showcases innovative and holistic customer insight projects from across the water and energy industry.

Attend the Utilities Market Research Conference to hear how utilities companies are taking a rigorous approach to market research to drive quality of customer engagement, understand how to influence behaviour change, measure and improve customer satisfaction and feed customer insight into long-term business planning and development of new propositions.

Key contributions from:

Bristol Water, Energy Systems Catapult, Severn Trent, Anglian Water, uSwitch, South East Water, SSE, Plymouth Energy Community, The Consumer Council for Water, EA Technology, NWG, Energy UK

Attend to discover how:

  • Anglian Water, Bristol Water and Northumbrian Water Group are using innovative methodologies to optimise customer engagement
  • USwitch, Energy UK and Plymouth Energy Community are determining how best to support vulnerable customers
  • Severn Trent is identifying and incorporating the views of hard to reach customers into strategic business planning
  • The Consumer Council for Water and SEW are uncovering attitudes and behavioural drivers and developing effective behavioural change communications
  • Energy Systems Catapult and EA Technology are testing customer acceptance of new services to optimise future propositions
  • SSE is analysing its customers’ journeys to identify customer pain points and gain feedback on journey improvements

Radisson Blu Edwardian
9-13 Bloomsbury Street,London,WC1B 3QD

No Biography Available


09.00 Registration & coffee

09.25 Opening comments from the Chair

Dawn Mulvey, Head of Impact Utilities, Impact MR


09.35 Customer Engagement & Advocacy: Developing Fans for Life

Customer engagement and advocacy is an important step towards tackling major social and environmental challenges. With this in mind, join Explain Research to explore how to build advocacy with your communities and customers and to turn them into fans for life.

  • Determining how utilities can build fan bases and the key steps to turning customers into fans
  • Discussing the future of customer engagement and innovation in the market research sector to future proof and provide solutions to engage with customers

Sam Riley, Research Manager, Explain Market Research

Holly Shiel-Redfern, Commercial Director, Explain Market Research


10.05 Transforming How we Talk to Customers

For 18 months, Traverse and Bristol Water worked together as strategic partners to transform the way they talked to their customers and to develop a broad, robustly triangulated evidence base as the bedrock of business-decision making.

  • Testing innovative mixed-method approaches with 13,000 customers
  • Changing how the business understands customer preferences, perceptions, and approaches working with customers as participants in service delivery
  • Evaluating the process and value of developing a strategic framework for customer engagement, and lessons learned for the future

Anna McKeon, Senior Consultant, Traverse

Danielle Emerson, Customer Research and Engagement lead, Bristol Water


10.35 Developing a Powerful Online Customer Community for On-Going Engagement

Anglian Water’s Love Every Drop community is an ‘always on’ customer engagement community of 400 customers, dedicated to supporting and informing decision-making around key strategic topics. Hear how this agile and customer-centric engagement channel is driving change across Anglian Water.

  • Putting customers at the heart of the consultation process – PR19 / SDS and going beyond Ofwat guidelines with a focus on key regulatory topics
  • Developing an online community to garner insights into campaign effectiveness and understand behaviour and usage change
  • Assessing the impact the community has had on strategic decision making and across stakeholder teams

Nick Campbell, Senior Consultant, incling

Carolyn Cooksey, Head of PR19 Strategic Stakeholder Engagement, Anglian Water


11.05 Morning refreshments

11.25 PANEL: Putting Vulnerable Customers First in the Utility Industry

Join our expert panellists to consider what more needs to be done to engage, educate and assist vulnerable customers. Assess how technology, people and politics can inform current and future strategies.

  • Exploring the unique challenges and opportunities posed by this group of customers
  • Considering the roles and responsibilities of those working within the sector
  • Examining how cross-industry collaboration can drive behavioural change

Chaired by:

Adam Wilson, Head of Energy Research, Opinium


Richard Neudegg, Head of Regulation, uSwitch

Audrey Gallacher, Director of Policy, Energy UK

James Whitley, Senior Research Manager, Ecorys

Rachel Drayson, Sustainability Insight Manager, NUS

Emma Pinchbeck, Executive Director, RenewableUK


12.05 Engaging Low Income and Hard to Reach Individuals via Neighbourhood Focused Initiatives

Plymouth City Council’s (PCC) domestic energy efficiency scheme is a neighbourhood based approach to engaging with economically disadvantaged communities on energy matters. Hear how market research is laying the foundations for the project.  

  • Understanding the types of customers who do and do not engage with the programme
  • Gleaning insights about customer journeys and identifying the most effective engagement mechanisms
  • Examining key lessons learnt from the scheme to date

Bill Kirkup, Partner, CAG Consult

Justin Bear, Project Manager, Plymouth Energy Community


12.35 Capturing Views and Preferences of ‘Hard To Reach’ Customers

Severn Trent sought to better understand the views of ‘hard to reach’ customers as part of its customer input into the company’s business planning. Hear how Severn Trent obtained views from it’s hard to reach customers and to what extent their feedback differed from more reachable customers.

  • Comparing the demographic and attitudinal profiles of hard to reach customers with those of ‘typically reached’ customers
  • Comparing the attitudes, preferences and values of hard to reach customers with those of ‘typically reached’ customers
  • Evaluating the importance in including the voices of hard to reach customers in research and future business planning

Paul Le Masurier, Projects Director, SYSTRA

Andrew Hatfield, Senior Consultant, SYSTRA

Susie Price, Strategic Insight Lead, Severn Trent


13.05 Lunch 

14.05 Using Gamification to Improve the Cognitive Validity of ‘Willingness to Pay’ Research

NWG broke the mould this business planning period and chose not to complete stated preference research, replacing this traditional method with the creation of a gamified tool. Working with economists, research and digital partners NWG created a service valuation tool that increased cognitive validity when customers made choices about prioritising investments and willingness to pay for service improvements.

Elaine Erskine, Strategic Research and Assurance Manager, NWG

Ben Wisniewski, Regulation Manager - Economics, NWG

Anna Berry, Consultant, Frontier Economics

14.35 Testing New Service Propositions: Selling ‘Heat as a Service’

To meet its carbon-reduction obligations the UK needs to effectively eliminate 20% of carbon emissions that come from home heating. Hear how The Energy Systems Catapult explored the concept of selling Heat as a Service with 100 homes over the winter of 2017/18.

  • Examining how trial participants engaged with the concept of buying heat in ‘warm hours’ rather than kWhs
  • Analysing key insights gained from combining longitudinal qualitative research with data analytics
  • Highlighting key learnings with implications for developing Heat as a Service

Simon Rubens, Founder & Director, New Experience

Ed Hunt, Service Design Lead, Energy Systems Catapult


15.05 Managing EV Demand on Network Capacity: Testing Consumer Acceptance of New Demand Management Strategies

Western Power Distribution (WPD) has commissioned the world’s largest study into how electric vehicle (EV) ownership will impact low voltage (LV) networks and is seeking to understand the level of consumer acceptance of managed EV charging, especially during peak times. In this session Impact Utilities and EA Technology will describe the current challenge, and how this research can be used so the industry is future-ready.

  • Managing the increased demand for power the EV evolution will create
  • Undertaking research to identify how EV owners’ behaviour changes when charging is adjusted using demand management strategies/algorithms
  • Using insight to develop a technological blueprint for distribution network operators

Nicole McNab, Associate Director, Impact Utilities

Nick Storer, Principal Consultant at EA Technology


15.35 Afternoon refreshments

15.55 Saving Water: Helping Customers See the Bigger Picture

A key challenge for the water industry is to encourage consumers to use water more wisely. Hear two examples of how the water industry is using a range of insight methodologies, including

Lucy Brady, Research Director, Community Research

Dr Mike Keil, Head of Policy and Research, The Consumer Council for Water

Lee Dance, Head of Water Resources, SEW

Rachel Risely, Deputy Managing Director, Accent


16.40 Moving Home - Exploring the Customer Journey and the Role that Utilities Play

With an increasingly competitive energy market, SSE wanted to explore the ‘Homemove’ journey to identify areas for improvement, with the aim of improving the experience to make more movers want to be an SSE customer.

  • Understanding the broader moving mindset and identifying when utilities became top of mind during the mover experience
  • Identifying the key customer pain points and gaining feedback on journey improvements
  • Examining customer service and communication improvements the insight has enabled

Danielle Hume, Research Director, Trinity McQueen

Julia Gorman, Primary Research Manager, SSE


17.10 Closing comments

17.15 End of conference

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