SP Energy Networks won the 2017 Utility Week Award for Best Customer Facing Team for its stakeholder engagement team. Utility Week takes a look at why.

  • Category title:  Best Team – Customer Facing
  • Award winner: SP Energy Networks
  • Annual company turnover: £1 billion
  • Number of directly-employed staff: 2,500
  • Entry criteria:
  1. Quality of entry (clear, evidence based)
  2. Evidence of how the team brought about measurable benefits for the business
  3. Evidence of how the team brought about measurable benefits for customers
  4. Evidence of teamwork
  5. Evidence of how the team brought in input from customers and stakeholders
  6. Evidence of going beyond business as usual

What was the aim of the team?

The aim of the team was to improve the improve the performance of the business by gathering, analysing and acting upon stakeholder feedback to lower costs and raise outputs during the RIIO ED1 price control.

Specific tasks included: identifying engagement opportunities; building relationships and being the face of the business; producing and maintaining engagement plans and identifying strategic issues; and most importantly setting the overall engagement strategy for SP Energy Networks.

The team sought to bring together the best practice from across the industry and ensure that all parts of the business benefitted from stakeholder engagement.

What was the scale of the task?

SP Energy Networks serves 3.5 million homes and businesses across the cities of Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as three large rural areas – North Wales, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

The distribution networks it operates feature 30,000 substations, 40,000 kilometres of overhead lines and 65,000 kilometres of underground cables.

How did the team pursue its aims?

The whole of SP Energy Networks underwent reorganisation for the RIIO ED1 price control starting in April 2015. This included the creation of the stakeholder engagement team.

The number of personnel working solely on stakeholder engagement was quadrupled from three to twelve. Dedicated management roles were created for each of SP Energy Networks three distribution license areas.

Rather than engaging with a small number of stakeholders as a central team, they took a more holistic approach, involving all staff across the entirety of the business from top to bottom.

A new stakeholder engagement system called Tractivity was rolled out to provide full visibility over the engagement activities undertaken by the business.

What did the team achieve?

As a result of its work during 2016/17, the number of customers who recognise SP Energy Networks and understand its role increased by 9 per when compared to the year before. There was also an 8 per cent rise in the number who know who to call in the event of a power cut.

The team formed more than 120 outside partnerships to deliver messages to hard-to-reach but at-risk customers.

For example, SP Energy Networks worked with the Scottish Association of Young Farmers in an effort to prevent potentially fatal accidents when farm machinery strikes overhead power lines. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of reported incidents fell by 34 per cent.

Messages concerning power cuts and vulnerability were viewed 2.2 million times on health, local authority, travel and news websites, and half a million people were reached through Facebook and Instagram. Advertisements appeared on more than 1,500 buses and 700 trains and were printed on 290,000 pay and display parking tickets.

Power cut and priority services packs were supplied to over 10,000 GP surgeries, pharmacies, local businesses and community centres.

SP Energy Networks supported 26 community energy projects and helped to inform many more. Three quarters of community energy projects receiving funding from the Welsh government were connected within its license areas.

More than 15,000 pupils took part its education programme to attract new talent into the energy industry.

In total, the company conducted a total of 439 engagements over the year – more than one each day – and obtained 196 pieces of consequential feedback. This led to the revision of five key strategies and policies. It held 16 panels reaching more than 100 stakeholders and undertook 65 actions in response.

Stakeholders rated the firm 8.1/10 for engagement.

In its submission to the judges, SP Energy Networks said: “The strength of stakeholder engagement is now embedded in the company’s DNA.”

What the judges said

The judges said the winning team “came together to truly capture the story of community and stakeholder engagement”.

Winner’s comment

Tracy Joyce, head of stakeholder engagement and communications, SP Energy Networks

“It’s amazing for us to be recognised at such a high profile industry event, and I know it means a huge amount to every member of the team to see their hard work acknowledged by their peers.”

The Utility Week Awards are held in association with CGI and Capgemini

The 2018 Utility Week Awards shortlist is available to view at www.utilityweekawards.co.uk

Sponsorship opportunities are available – contact Utility Week business development manager Ben Hammond on benhammond@fav-house.com or 01342 332116 for more information.