Harnessing insight to deliver strategic advantage, customer centricity & sustainable futures

A one day event designed to showcase the latest customer insight projects from across the water and energy industry. Hear how utility companies are taking a rigorous approach to market research to drive quality and impact of customer engagement, understand how best to influence behaviour change and feed customer insight into long-term business planning and development of new propositions.

Hear how:

  • Ofgem is exploring the most effective methods to encourage customer engagement
  • United Utilities & Portsmouth Water are  incorporating the views of customers into the heart of their strategic business planning
  • Citizens Advice & Northern Power Grid are identifying customer concerns and testing customer acceptance of new service propositions and models for future sustainability
  • Southern Water considers insight as fundamental to the journey towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • British Gas is using immersive and agile insight to explore new growth opportunities
  • Severn Trent is determining how best to communicate disruptive change to customers

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

Harnessing insight to deliver strategic advantage, customer centricity & sustainable futures


09.00 Registration & coffee


09.30 Opening comments from the Chair

Dawn Mulvey, Client Services Director, Impact


---Shifting consumer behaviour for future sustainability---


09.40 Consumer perceptions of future energy models

It is widely accepted that new energy business models may be needed to improve consumer access to the benefits of new technology and service structures. Citizens Advice wanted to understand the views of a broad cross-section of consumers and to feed findings into the government’s Future Energy Retail Market Review.

Hear how a joint collaboration between Impact and energy sector consultancy Delta-ee brought potential future energy models 'to life' for respondents and revealed how consumers felt about a range of new energy models. The paper will also outline the benefits of collaborating with industry partners to deliver a successful project.

Steve Morley, Research Manager, Impact

Krista Kruja, Policy Researcher, Citizens Advice

Will van de Byl, Analyst, Delta-ee


10.10 Panel: achieving zero carbon emissions By 2050

  • Debating the route to zero emissions:
    • too little too late OR an unrealistic goal
    • the balance between regulation & behavioural nudges
  • Key areas of focus for utilities
  • The role of research and insight in reaching zero carbon emissions

Chaired by:

Matt Evans, Research Director, Accent


Nick EvesHead of Customer Insight, Southern Water

Bill Kirkup, Partner, CAG Consultants

Andrew Charlesworth, Head of Benefits and Evaluation, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)


10.40 What legacy means for the water industry

Join Trinity McQueen Research and Scottish Water for a journey through an exciting programme of future gazing research methods - with behavioural science at the heart. Explore how different generations plan for legacy – enabling organisations to talk to customers about future investments in the right way.  Find out what customers prioritise when it comes to future water industry spending - to help organisations think about how to involve customers in planning their own investment strategies.

Joanna Wilson Brown, Associate Director, Trinity McQueen

Sara McCann, Experience Improvement Team Manager, Scottish Water


11.10 Morning refreshments


11.30 Smart EV charging - what do drivers and businesses find acceptable?

Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) are increasing but they pose a big challenge for the electricity grid with most vehicles charging taking place in the evening coinciding with peak demand. The next few years present an important opportunity to develop so-called ‘smart’ charging offers for electric vehicles which are convenient and fair for drivers, but don’t put pressure on the electricity grid. Hear Citizens Advice share their research journey, findings and recommendations into what type of offers are acceptable to potential user groups, and would encourage a behaviour shift to charging at off-peak times.

Victoria Pelka, Senior Policy Researcher, Citizens Advice

Rosie Sharp, Graduate Researcher, TRL


12.00 Addressing customer concerns about smart meter data sharing

By 2020, 30 million Smart Meters will be installed across Great Britain, recording electricity consumption for each home for each half hour of the day.  This research explores customers reactions to having their half hour individual data shared with Northern PowerGrid (NPg) and solutions to satisfy customers’ concerns. Hear how Northern Power Grid have used this insight to determine what information should be included in its Data Privacy Plan* (required by Ofgem) and how this should be communicated to allow full transparency to the customer.

Susie Smyth, Research Director and Head of Utilities, Impact

Sharon Roper, Stakeholder Manager, Northern Power Grid



12.30 Lunch


--------New market opportunities--------


13.30 Developing new market territories with immersive and agile research

Many energy suppliers find there is limited room for growth due to their operation in highly regulated markets, so seeking opportunities in related markets is essential. In this session British Gas shares how the brand is using agile research to establish and create opportunities in the landlord market. Examine findings that will shape British Gas’s commercial strategy and assess implications for others in this space.

Paul Hudson, CEO, FlexMR

Paul Rostern, Proposition Insight Manager, British Gas


----Customer engagement & customer experience----


14.00 Testing approaches to encouraging consumer engagement
Recently, Ofgem has undertaken a number of randomised control trials around encouraging consumer engagement. These trials have been developed using a combination of qualitative consumer research and behavioural insight techniques. Join Ofgem to understand the whole research journey to developing and evaluating a trial and the key findings they have produced.
Emma Easton, Senior Research and Insight Manager, Office for Research and Economics, Ofgem

Beth Moon, Head of Consumer and Behavioural Insights, Office for Research and Economics, Ofgem


-----Business planning-----


14.30 How United Utilities achieved fast track status for its PR19 business plan through innovative and inspiring consumer insight

United Utilities was one of only 3 water companies to achieve a fast track status from Ofwat for its PR19 business plan. Hear the story of how United Utilities developed its customer understanding – from foundational research delivering a comprehensive understanding of needs and priorities, through to advanced techniques to provide values for aspects of service and exploring the effects of framing and education. Examine the innovative methods used and how new and exciting behaviour change methodologies continue to be applied to help the business genuinely drive new behaviour around water services.

Matt Coggan, Research Director, Boxclever

Ken Dillon, Customer Research Manager, United Utilities


15.00 Afternoon refreshments


15.20 Cultural realignment & customer centricity

Hear how Portsmouth Water set out to ensure customers were given the opportunity to influence its regulatory business planning and commercial strategy at the highest level by forming an on-going dialogue via its customer advisory panel. Examine how the process was successfully delivered to enable improved customer understanding and engagement across the entire business.

Kate Waller, Associate Director, Community Research

Ian Limb, Head of HR, Portsmouth Water


----Customer communications----


15.50 Birmingham Resilience Project – communicating change

Birmingham residents are very proud of the taste and softness of their tap water. Severn Trent has gathered customer insight to explore the extent to which customers would notice, and be concerned about, a temporary change in the taste/smell/hardness of their tap water resulting from water coming from an alternative source whilst essential aqueduct repair work is carried out. This research identifies how best to communicate the change, and optimal wording of text messages, Facebook posts and FAQs for affected customers. Hear how Severn Trent conducted the research, what was learned, and how it has shaped communications.

Susie Price, Strategic Insight Lead, Strategy and Regulation, Severn Trent

Carol Bloor, Senior Community Communications Officer, Severn Trent

Rory Corcoran, Research Director, Join the Dots | Insites Consulting


16.20 Building trust & strengthening brand
D?r Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) has undertaken its biggest ever customer engagement work in the past few years talking to over 40,000 customers. The organisation’s vision is “to earn the trust of customers every day.” Two vital components of building such trust are familiarity and favourability. Favourability based on good customer experience and perception of value for money; familiarity based on customers’ awareness of who they are, what they do and how they do it.
This session will examine how recent customer communications is increasing awareness of DCWW’s not for profit status with over half of customers now aware. Significantly, the proportion of customers who say they trust DCWW has also increased as well.
Alun Shurmer Director of Communications and Customer Strategy, D?r Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW)

16.50 Closing remarks from the Chair


17.00 End of conference

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