Know Your Customer: Specialist data sources to identify bill payers in Utilities

Sagacity and Synectics Solutions are partnered to help utility providers to better know their customers. By leveraging data, providers can address tariff fraud, identify unknown occupiers and support vulnerable customers. See how we've helped other providers with two real stories:


Helping the Utilities sector save over £3 million in just three months by cutting fraud

Read the case study

Validating customer eligibility for social tariffs generates new revenue for water providers

Read the case study

The Importance of Data Quality

Utilities providers must maintain huge volumes of customer data but with a fast rate of change, it is extremely difficult to keep records accurate and up to date. This can cause issues identifying the bill payer and ensuring that they’re on the correct tariff.

But failing to act is not an option, and it all starts with one simple name, “The Occupier”. It is the building block for all successful service, tariff, and revenue collection strategies.

If you don’t know who you are serving how can you possibly ensure they’re receiving the correct bill for the right service, or to detect if they are eligible to receive discounted tariffs, or meeting their needs appropriately?

A lack of this basic information can result in bill shocks, incorrect tariffs, wrong occupancy lengths, poor customer experience and put the provider at risk of regulatory sanctions.


Understanding and Meeting Customer Needs –
Everyone Benefits

Utilities providers ask themselves key questions every day in their pursuit of delivering optimum customer service.

  • Do my customers live alone and are they eligible for single persons discount?
  • Do they prefer over the phone engagement rather than online or email?
  • Are they struggling to pay their bills?
  • Do they qualify for additional help or a social tariff?
  • Are they hard of hearing and need assistance whilst on the phone?

The list goes on, and critically none of these questions can be answered without knowing who the occupiers are.

It could be that paying in instalments helps some people, whilst others may benefit from help and advice on consumption that will improve affordability. There are several instances where knowing who the occupier is not only benefits the customer but also helps the provider too. These are all critical to ensuring optimum customer service, ongoing satisfaction and remaining compliant with regulation.

Ultimately, happier customers have increased propensity to pay.


Regulatory Drivers

Improving occupier data to get the right bill to the right person for the right time addresses multiple key areas of regulation governed by Ofwat and Ofgem. These include:

  • Billing accuracy and tariff verification across all utilities
  • Void properties and gap sites in the water sector
  • The Priority Services Register
  • Identifying fraud to ensure tariff verification across all customers
  • Supporting vulnerable customers

Ofgem points to tackling fuel poverty as critical, but how can this be achieved without first understanding which of your customers currently claiming tariff discounts based on their financial circumstances are genuinely entitled to receive it. 


The Cost of Dissatisfaction

Ofwat’s C-Mex measures are customer satisfaction rankings, with significant under and out incentives associated to performance. Ofwat forecasts that the largest participating company could face “returning up to £20m a year to its customers if it performs poorly in these assessments”. A sobering reminder to all utilities providers of the need to know who your customers are and to hold accurate and up to date information on them.


The Benefit of Accurate Data

As the industry experiences massive consolidation brought about by increasing wholesale prices within the energy sector, knowing who your customers are has never been more important. Holding accurate information on them is crucial to position any organisation well for operational changes such as data and systems migrations. Better occupier data improves the ability to identify the bill payer, validate that they are in receipt of the correct tariff and improve collections performance.


A Robust Data Strategy is Required When it Comes to Identifying “The Occupier”

Fraud continues to grow when individuals fail to declare when they have moved into a property and begin to use the utilities services connected to the property. Your existing customer records are the starting point of any meaningful data management strategy. However, these records need validating and reference data to confirm who the true “Occupier” of a property is. Manual checks are costly and time consuming whilst data-enhancement can be immediate, in-depth, and cost-effective.

Utilising data from a Credit Bureau is step one to understanding who the customer is, based on their credit footprint. But to address the ever-increasing range of customer profiles that bureau data alone may not be able to verify, integrating additional specialist third party datasets is key.

The National Fraud Initiative (NFI) data supplied by the Cabinet Office and managed by Synectics Solutions, holds a variety of information including Council Tax, Benefits and Pension Credits. This data supports the identification of tariff ineligibility and fraudulent claims of unoccupied properties. Alongside the Land Registry data, which provides a true picture of property ownership, truly knowing your customer becomes much easier when using these richer data sources.

With “The Occupier” identified successfully, utilities providers can focus on meeting their needs better. But beware, this isn’t a one-time only activity. To accommodate the ever-moving customer demographic, a program of ongoing occupier identification activities is essential to detect and prevent fraud from happening.


Customer Stories

To find out how our partnership with Sagacity can help you prevent tariff fraud, identify unknown occupiers and support vulnerable customers, read our case studies below.


Helping the Utilities sector save over £3 million in just three months by cutting fraud

Read the case study

Validating customer eligibility for social tariffs generates new revenue for water providers

Read the case study

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