New research: 73% of UK water and energy customers unsure if their bills are accurate; and 60% prefer self-service to calling customer service

Macro 4 survey reveals customer opinions on utility sector challenges, including rising prices, digital interaction and the environment

Crawley, UK, March 9, 2022 – New research, which polled domestic utility bill payers about their attitudes to UK water and energy suppliers, suggests 73 per cent of those surveyed have doubts about the accuracy of their bills. And when it comes to contacting customer service, 60 per cent would prefer not to speak to a live agent if they can resolve their queries using online resources. 37 per cent would pay a little more on their utility bills to protect the environment.

On the back of February’s new higher energy price cap announcement, 80 per cent of respondents said they are very concerned about the impact of rising energy bills on their household finances. Around half plan to switch supplier to save costs as soon as a better deal becomes available.

The above is a snapshot of the key findings of the research which is based on two separate surveys of over 1,000 bill payers each. It was commissioned by Macro 4, a division of UNICOM® Global, which helps enterprises accelerate digital transformation. The full results are published in a new report, 'Giving UK Utility Customers A Voice'.

Four key findings from the report are summarized below:

1) Billing accuracy called into question

62 per cent of survey respondents said they regularly check their energy and water bills for mistakes (rising to 73 per cent after the energy price cap rise was announced), suggesting customers have doubts about billing accuracy. In fact, 42 per cent of energy customers and a third of water customers surveyed said their supplier could improve their service by making sure their bills are accurate. And 31 per cent of energy customers and 26 per cent of water customers want their providers to make their bills easier to understand.

2) Customers want self-service and digital interaction

Customers are becoming more open to digital interaction, including using self-service systems – a trend intensified by COVID-19 lockdowns. 61 per cent of utility bill payers in the survey say they have become more used to interacting digitally since the pandemic. 72 per cent now want utility companies to provide online resources that make it easy to find information and resolve their questions themselves. In fact, 60 per cent would prefer not to call customer services at all if they can solve issues themselves using online resources.

In view of this trend, utilities should consider extending self-service to include providing easy online access to a broader range of customer data and documents (including bills, correspondence and contracts) as well as tools to help customers analyze their own usage and interact in a more connected way across digital channels.

3) New energy price cap makes customers more inclined to switch supplier

The higher energy price cap announcement is likely to make customers more demanding and less loyal. 58 per cent of bill payers in the survey expect higher levels of service in return for higher bills – and 63 per cent will be more inclined to search for better deals elsewhere from now on. 51 per cent intend to move to another supplier as soon as a better deal is available.

80 per cent of bill payers said they are very concerned about the impact higher bills will have on household finances this year.

4) Environmental and social responsibility increasingly important

Environmental issues are now ever-present in many customers’ minds and 70 per cent of bill payers who were questioned said it is important that their energy or water provider is helping to protect the environment/reducing its carbon footprint. Over a third (37 per cent) are willing to pay a little more on their bills for suppliers to invest in becoming more environmentally friendly. And this jumps to 57 per cent among the 18-24 age group.

90 per cent say it’s important* that a water or energy supplier provides support for people who find it hard to pay their bills. 22 per cent say they want their energy supplier to provide financial support with paying their bills and 19 per cent say they want their water supplier to do the same.

Commenting on the research, Jim Allum, Director, Commercial and Technical at Macro 4, said: “With this research we wanted to get a sense of the voice of the utility customer and what’s important to them, since we work closely with water and energy utilities in supporting their digital transformation. What’s clear is that customers now have very high service expectations. For example, they want more transparent billing and a joined-up customer service offering. They also insist that companies demonstrate social and environmental responsibility. And when they interact with their suppliers, they want a choice of ways to get in touch, incorporating digital self-service, while knowing that their queries will be dealt with quickly.”

Download Macro 4’s report, 'Giving UK Utility Customers a Voice'.

About the survey Macro 4 commissioned two online surveys of 1,193 and 1,312 domestic utility bill payers (Aged 18+) throughout the UK via research company Censuswide.

The survey was conducted in January and February 2022

* 'Very important' and 'Somewhat important' options combined.

About Macro 4

Macro 4, a division of UNICOM Global, develops software solutions that accelerate business transformation. Macro 4’s cross-platform enterprise information management solutions make it easy for companies to go digital, personalize customer communications and unlock the value of their corporate content. Macro 4 solutions for DevOps, session management and performance optimization are used by many of the world’s largest enterprises to modernize their mainframe applications and development processes.

About UNICOM® Global

UNICOM Global consists of more than fifty (50) corporate entities encompassing a wide range of businesses across all geographic regions. With its corporate headquarters in Los Angeles, California, to offices in Illinois, Kentucky, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia, throughout EMEA in the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland and the UAE, and across Asia/Pacific with locations in Japan, China, India, Australia, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines.

UNICOM Global offers deep in-house resources and flexible IT solutions to our partners worldwide. UNICOM Global focuses on acquiring and integrating mature and growing mid-cap NASDAQ, London Stock Exchange AIM and German publicly-traded companies in technology, financing, IT, real estate, and business services. Please visit our websites for additional information about the services, products and solutions that UNICOM Global offers:

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Memeo - Enterprise-grade Secure File Sharing for the Cloud

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SoftLanding Systems - IBM i software products

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iET Solutions - ITSM software products

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