Data is the foundation for engaging with customers says Bill Wilkins, CIO of challenger energy retailer First Utility.
First Utility is a pure energy retailer, buying gas and electricity on the open market and selling it to its consumers. The Midlands based energy firm recently hit the headlines when it revealed politician and Labour party leader Ed Milliband is a customer.

“We are trying to make the consumer feel good about this experience, not stressed. People are initially disengaged about their energy usage, I was the same. You take energy for granted. There is a trigger event like a house move and then you worry about your energy,” CIO Bill Wilkins tells CIO UK in a Profile interview.

“We collect the data from the customer’s meter and push that into our analytics engine, which segments consumers into cohort groups. These are anonymous groups which share common attributes and therefore allow a fair comparison of consumption. This means we can engage with consumers about their energy usage.

“These technologies drive a higher engagement by the consumer in energy and the way they consume. Customers on the programme are more likely to submit meter readings, get accurate bills, be aware of their consumption and work to reduce the amount of energy they use and their bills.

“During a customer’s enrolment we take their consumption data, data on their type of property as well as weather data, and use it to model their consumption. All customers are in cohort groups and receive an annual analysis of their performance in that cohort,” Wilkins says.

“Ultimately this business is about the customer engagement strategy. To most consumers the only engagement they have with their energy providers is when the billing takes place – and even then it may be a direct debit.”