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Amplifying the voice of gas consumers

Posted on: 08/05/2019

A Customer Engagement Group (CEG) has many responsibilities, but at its core is a sharp focus on making sure organisations are accountable to their customers and stakeholders.

In a world where trust in large institutions is at an unprecedented low, it’s never more important for businesses to really listen and respond to the wants and needs of the communities they operate within.

This means for the first time the gas distribution companies are required to design and deliver wide-spread stakeholder consultation to shape their businesses for the future. This enables gas networks to develop plans and business strategies that answer customer challenges, deliver what stakeholders what they want and offer enhanced and improved services as a result

If they are to meet and where possible exceed customer expectations, understanding the fundamentals of customer energy needs is vital for Wales & West Utilities. Our role as a CEG is to take a detailed look at their stakeholder engagement approach and critically examine their plans and strategies to act on the feedback they are gathering.

As well as scrutinising their engagement plans, research methodology and consultation tactics, our role is to make sure the voice of stakeholders throughout the communities they serve is well represented.

Targeting groups of people from all corners of Wales & West Utilities gas network is vital to develop a well-balanced and inclusive range of insights and data to effectively inform business decisions, target services appropriately and ultimately serve their stakeholders better.  This is never more important when determining the needs of vulnerable customers and those in fuel poor situations.

A commitment to continuous engagement and subsequent improvement is what we’re really looking for.  Organisations that can authentically engage with people, have effective conversations and use these interactions to inform, improve and validate business plans will undoubtedly improve their service as a result.

Increased customer expectations, tough regulatory demands and changes to how energy is produced, stored and used all are contributing to a challenging energy environment.  Addressing these challenges is putting pressure on gas distribution networks around the UK.  As Wales & West Utilities' CEG we are here to make sure the voice of consumers is amplified and acted on in response to these challenges.  This will be vital in the development of their Business Plan to support services for stakeholders during the networks’ next regulatory Price Control from April 2021-2026, set by regulator Ofgem.

The members of the CEG group have been drawn from diverse backgrounds and experience and are well equipped to ensure that stakeholders throughout Wales and south west England are being heard and importantly are able to influence Wales & West Utilities plans for the future.

Dr Mike Brooker

Chair of our Customer Engagement group, advocate for consumers and more than 30 years’ experience in the utilities industry.