Customers

Examining how utilities are tackling the key issues of vulnerability and affordability

Editor's picks

Trustpilot is investigating Symbio Energy over the nature of its responses to customers leaving negative feedback. The review site stressed it takes action when “businesses act in a way that is threatening, or is perceived to be so”.
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Centrica says it is continuing to face tough trading conditions as a result of the pandemic but added that its restructure remains "on track". In a trading update issued ahead of its AGM the company said the factors impacting its 2021 outlook remain “broadly unchanged” since its preliminary results in February in which it announced a £360 million loss.
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Newly released government figures show 12.5 per cent of households in England are estimated to be in fuel poverty in 2021. The projection represents a reduction from the figure in 2019 of 13.4 per cent, which BEIS attributes to the progress in energy efficiency.
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Although both are white labels of Octopus, M&S and Co-Op Energy manage to outperform their parent company on customer service rankings. Utility Week asked Octopus Energy’s Rebecca Dibb-Simkin why this is, and what approach the company has taken to integrating two household brands into a disruptor model.
Interviews
Debt and collections leaders in utilities remain braced for the wave of debt and affordability woes they know will come with the end of government’s coronavirus support measures. Are they armed with the right products, resources and data to service the new scale and profile of customers in arrears?
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New research commissioned by Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has shown that just one in five Brits believe that we can meet the UK’s net carbon zero target by 2050, but that there is also a strong public appetite for a greener future. As part of our Countdown to COP campaign, chief executive Mark Horsley shares his views on how the gas sector must win hearts and minds as 2050 draws nearer.
Opinion

Latest in Customers

After six years of underinvestment, Northern Ireland Water has been granted £2.1 billion to spend on capital investment programmes to improve infrastructure as well as to meet climate and environmental goals. The increase in capital investment will enable the company to provide wastewater treatment services that have lagged behind the rate of housing growth.
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A national communications drive is needed to help bring the public on board with the UK’s net zero ambitions, Citizens Advice has suggested. Zoe Guijarro, policy manager at the consumer body, said: "We need to meet people where they are and communicate the vision in a way that means something to them.”
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A quarter of 18-24-year-olds struggle to understand their energy bills, new research from Octopus Energy and the National Literacy Trust has revealed. A OnePoll survey of more than 2,500 bill payers looked to explore how well people understood their energy bills and identify ways in which they could be made easier to read.
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Ofwat is inviting water companies, their customers and consumer groups to share their experiences of service during the pandemic to better understand how support could be improved for those in financial difficulty, struggling with emotional wellbeing or without online access.
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April was a record month for customers switching away from large energy suppliers to small and medium-sized retailers, new figures from Electralink show. It also represented a 29 per cent increase in switching compared to the same month last year, when the country was in the grip of the pandemic.
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Octopus Energy chief executive Greg Jackson has said his company’s net loss for 2019/20 was driven by the supplier’s “relentless investment” in new technologies, international expansion and customer growth. The retailer, which is this year celebrating its 5th anniversary, saw its revenue grow 160 per cent from £477 million to £1.24 billion and estimates a revenue of £2 billion as of year end April 2021.
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This month saw the Debt Respite Scheme, also known as “breathing space", come into force. The legislation is designed to give customers with problem debt temporary legal protections from creditor action. Jayne Gardner, head of debt recovery at Corclaim, examines how it is likely to affect the utilities sector.
Opinion
Could a new technology development, fueled by the success of Open Banking in the financial services sector, help utilities overcome long standing efficiency, accuracy and customer experience challenges in their billing operations? Read our report to find out more.
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Octopus and Midcounties Co-operative have relaunched their community energy scheme and will soon offer customers the chance to invest in a stake through their bills. Younity, previously called Co-op Community Energy, has partnerships with 100 community generators across the country. Octopus supplies Co-op through a white label agreement, with the latter recently re-branding to Your Co-op Energy. 
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