Decision Marketing Data Clinic: Powering up utilities

DM ClinicIn the latest in a series of articles, designed to provide advice on data-driven marketing strategies in these turbulent times and beyond, we look into the issues facing the utilities sector.

The Decision Marketing Data Clinic, in association with REaD Group, is open to all companies and organisations big and small. If you have a burning issue which you would like advice on please email us on

Over the past few months, the energy crisis has put a huge amount of pressure on both utilities providers and consumers. With increasing wholesale prices and rising bills putting many smaller energy brands out of business, the energy sector needs to be doing everything it can to reassure its customers.

With wholesale energy prices rising, we are being forced to pass these costs on to our customers. How can we secure customer loyalty?
As energy bills continue to rise, customers want to know that utility providers are on their side. The best way for providers to do this is to keep customer data clean and up-to-date so that important account and marketing communications are always timely, informative, and accurate.

In order to maintain and even increase their customer base and establish a sense of trust and transparency between brand and customer, providers need to be doing everything they can to optimise their communications.

An up-to-date database allows utility brands to contact consumers at the correct address with information regarding their personal tariff, utility bills and changes to energy prices.

Not only that, but having up-to-date data provides brands with a much better understanding of the way their customers behave.

What can we do to avoid customer churn?
Over recent months, we have seen first-hand how prevalent customer switching can be within the energy sector (especially when smaller brands are being absorbed by the big six).

The quality of a brand can therefore be a main driver in this decision. Bad customer data means a higher propensity to switch to a new provider while, conversely, high-quality customer data results in a high propensity for customers to remain with their current energy provider.

Our Switcher Model has been built using the most accurate and variable rich consumer data universe in the UK. It is based on our validated and permissioned consumer database, containing over 41 million marketable individuals and an unrivalled selection of hundreds of variables. It allows the segmentation of a customer database to identify those with the greatest propensity to switch from their existing provider.

Rising costs are going to be putting a lot of pressure on customers. How do we identify and protect vulnerable consumers?
Ensuring consumer wellbeing is central to every provider’s marketing strategy over the coming months. Lower income households will of course be the hardest hit by the hikes in energy prices. Utility brands, therefore, need to know how to identify vulnerable consumers and those most likely to struggle with rising costs.

Vulnerability is increasingly a key factor in consumer and prospect communication strategies and influences how consumers are communicated with, billed or visited. Using a Consumer Vulnerability Score Model can help brands identify these consumers, helping them to tailor their communications, assist with debt ratio and identify potential problems for consumers before major issues occur.

It also allows utility brands to tailor home visits and maintenance management to suit consumer needs, ensuring that they adhere to best practice guidelines, avoid costly reputational damage and, ultimately, protect the consumer’s wellbeing.

Phil Ward is account director at REaD Group

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