Information software company Localz, which assists companies with last mile delivery services, has commissioned a report on what we can expect from the utilities sector in 2019, partnering with British Gas, Citizens Advice, The Water Report and TWENTY65.
In an article put together by CEO and Co-Founder, Tim Andrew, Localz found that the utility sector has been impacted by the ‘IConomy’ – the Individual Economy whereby, as Andrew explains, “customers know what they want, where they want and when that want it and this applies to everything in the sector from boiler repairs to repairing water leaks”.
As such, consumers are becoming more demanding and expect to have more information at their fingertips – for example, being able to track where their engineer is the same way they can track an order on Amazon, Uber or Deliveroo. More and more, companies are not being compared to their industry competitors but to the wider market – so if a customer has a positive experience with a technology or travel company, they expect the same experience from their utility provider.
Three key predictions from the research of Localz and its partners which are set to impact 2019 are:
As consumer expectations increase, compliance will become a bare minimum as utilities begin to increasingly take consumer demands and standards into account.
Rachel Fletcher, CEO of Ofwat, said: “At a strategic level, water companies are likely to pay more attention to their 'social purpose' – to give greater consideration to how they serve a broader set of stakeholders (customers, citizens, communities, environment) beyond their shareholders. This is in keeping with wider business trends, and of particular relevance to water companies in light of the legitimacy challenge they face, and the essential nature of the service they provide.”
Localz also predicts significant partnership across various sectors and industries. Caroline Wadsworth, Water Innovation Hub Manager, TWENTY65, commented: “In order to increase the adoption and deployment of innovative solutions in the water industry, we need to work collaboratively to identify and progress both the challenges and the potential solutions.”
Andrew added: “As a business, trying to meet, let alone exceed consumer expectations by taking input from just an internal or single industry perspective is futile. Cross-industry collaboration and product development is critical.”
Technology and innovation don’t just improve experiences for the customer, but also enable staff to work more easily, and as such improve employee retention and engagement. Overall, of course, this impacts the entire business and the end user.
“User Experience is fundamental to us, it is not just about the interface it is about how the app makes the user feel. With an expansive field user base we don't have the luxury of being able to schedule training or briefings without severely impacting productivity, therefore solutions "just need to work" and users need to be able to pick them up and use them intuitively,” said Mike Burns, Technology Innovation Manager at British Gas.
For the next year, Andrew concludes that utilities companies must improve communication toward consumers. “The good news is that this is very achievable with the addition of transparency around operations and a collaborative mindset. It will be interesting to review in 2019 who has embraced the opportunity.”