Living and breathing enhanced engagement 

by Alison Blair Director - PwC Research

Email +44 (0)7711 589018

In the third in our series on boosting engagement in the energy sector, PwC Research director Alison Blair says companies need to understand and more fully engage with their customers' priorities.

The current consumer landscape is changing and the energy customer of the future will interact with retailers, DNOs (distribution network operators) and the grid in different and potentially more demanding ways. This may include new network infrastructure investment  in advancements such as electric vehicle charging, forcing retailers to focus even more on providing more a positive customer experience.  We believe this emerging future will demand an even greater need to engage and understand customer priorities.

While consumers are a key part of stakeholder engagement, there is also a need to deliver on business goals and priorities - be these to exceed customer expectations or demonstrate that corporate priorities can be fully aligned with customers’ needs and aspirations. Adding to the needs of the business and its customers, the regulatory environment must also be understood when designing an engagement framework. For example, for operators, price reviews are key and suppliers need to evidence competition and transparency in the marketplace. Ofgem has already indicated that there are four guiding principles that enhanced engagement needs to follow and, whilst this is specifically around the RIIo-2/RIIo-T2 agendas, we believe it is good advice across the board for the entire energy sector. They talk about:

  • Vulnerability, which we feel translates into demonstrating affordability, accessibility, education and communication;
  • Value for money, where it is key to understand consumer priorities;
  • Environmental impact, which includes smarter energy use and resilience, and;
  • Delivering services consumers need, which will in turn create better outcomes.

If we have learnt anything over the years in terms of great engagement - from a global investment bank trying to increase market share, to a water company convincing the regulator that their customer engagement is market-leading - it’s that an engagement programme is not just a compliance-focused tick-box exercise, but is embedded in the business and in the very DNA of the organisation.

We are seeing in the market that great research and insight is becoming a 'hygiene factor' that forms the basis of any engagement plan. We believe a good engagement plan needs to use multiple data sources from across the business as well as primary research and engagement with stakeholders. It must use innovative methods to both collaborate and create insights and not just test hypotheses, while looking within the organisation, across the industry and in other sectors.

To be truly at the heart of a business, enhanced engagement must influence decision-making and illustrate how that engagement has driven the direction, strategy and made demonstrable improvements.  It needs to move thinking from the traditional approach and challenge the status-quo. However, most importantly, we believe it needs to be part of a customer-led culture that continuously evolves and strives for customer excellence.

PwC Research strives for connected insight - combining credible primary research with robust data and deep industry knowledge. To hear more on our point of view on enhanced engagement or if would like to know more about PwC Research, please contact Alison Blair or Jen Gough.

by Alison Blair Director - PwC Research

Email +44 (0)7711 589018

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