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Create an organisation focused on the customer experience

The utilities industry is facing a period of significant change and organisational pressure. One key recurring theme is the need to improve the customer experience...

Focus on the customer experience

New periods of regulation and enhanced consumer powers has seen the utilities industry enter a period of significant change and organisational pressure. Like other markets within the UK and abroad, advances in technology, legislation and shifting customer attitudes has meant organisations have had to rapidly change their focus to ensure the customer is at the heart of everything they do. This cultural change has emerged as greater competition and services such as comparison websites have empowered customers to make faster and more informed choices. As a result, organisations have not only faced losing customer loyalty, but the customers themselves.

For utility providers, this once monopolised industry is now faced with the customers new ability to instantly compare energy prices, switch suppliers faster than ever before and raise a complaint within seconds through social media. This scenario has fundamentally challenged the industries foundations and it is set to continue. In 2017 business water users will also be able to choose their water supplier for the first time, paving the way for true competition amongst the regional monopolies. All of these external pressures present the utility industry with a unique challenge; how can we create a better customer experience and develop closer customer relationships through better, more reliable and capable services whilst finding ways to become more efficient?

A customer experience culture?

In the face of regulatory penalties such as those imposed by the RIIO & AMP frameworks, this is a daunting task. So, how do you create a culture which improves the customer experience whilst finding ways to become efficient?

There are many theories enthusiastically put forward to solve the problem, ‘magic formulas’ & ‘5 step approaches’ which promise to transform the way you conduct your business. However these tend not to sustain and the backlog of complaints return, staff engagement decreases and the grass grows back. At Unipart we do not believe in magic, as we have harnessed the learning from our own transformational journey to create our own way of working that has seen us sustain a culture of continuous performance improvement over 28 years. We call it the Unipart Way. Our journey has shown that one of the fundamental elements to success is to engage your people from the bottom up, by providing them with the capability to not only identify and highlight the problems they encounter every day, but to solve them quickly and effectively. By providing the correct environment where teams can access information on performance and raise issues in a structured way, the potential of the people in your organisation can be unlocked and this helps to ensure the new way of working is owned by the business and does not simply become yet another initiative.

Of course, engagement is not the only element to transformational change; we ourselves have codified our journey into a comprehensive system which has helped our clients deliver true organisational change. You can find out more about how Unipart have helped Utility organisations to transform their businesses here.

James Bishop

Posted by James Bishop

Business Analyst, Utilities at Unipart Expert Practices

The Unipart Way: performance improvement that sustains.

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