The Covid pandemic together with the cost-of-living crisis is putting increasing pressure on customers and their ability to balance competing demands. When moving properties, contacting your water supplier is not always the highest priority which is becoming a growing issue for companies and is also leaving customers without access to the help they may need.
Southern Water has seen a rising trend of properties without an identified occupier, which means that bills cannot be issued and customers cannot be contacted. Whilst some of these properties are empty, or void, others are not, which creates a whole range of challenges for the company and its customers. Where bills are not being paid or meters not being read, the water that is being used is not only lost revenue but it is also often lost water and seen as leakage. Customers are not getting access to the range of financial support available and water companies are facing further burdens by failing to meet targets set by the regulators. To address this problem, Southern Water engaged data experts, Sagacity, to deploy its industry leading Occupier Identification solution.
Getting clarity through data
Sagacity’s Occupier Identification is designed to identify occupants of properties listed as empty. It uses a range of sophisticated matching algorithms combined with specialist data to identify potential occupants based on their recent activity. Sagacity’s unique way of using datasets dynamically, depending on the analytics rather than the same data, sets it apart from other solutions. The data includes, but is not limited to, proprietary data, credit reference data, Land Registry and specialist third party datasets.
The power of analytics
Sagacity delivers analytics alongside its data processing as a key differentiator which includes using historical address data to ensure property information is accurate. This is particularly appropriate for properties and addresses that have been altered, for example; a conversion from one property to multiple, or many converted to one. It allows for more accurate occupier identification as well as less false voids. Analytics also powers the occupier identification process where Sagacity applies confidence scoring to each identified occupier in order to rank them, before data is input back into client systems. This is critical to avoiding unnecessary complaints and delivering improved customer service, with customers benefitting from more accurate billing together with the support available from the company.
As a first step, address data required attention: Sagacity cleansed and validated 98% of the accounts Southern Water supplied, significantly reducing instances of incorrect addresses. As a result, in 31% of the cases, Sagacity identified an occupier with a strong level of confidence, enabling Southern Water to contact these customers, who were previously either unknown or listed incorrectly, and bill them accordingly.
By increasing the accuracy and completeness of Southern Water’s occupier data, void properties were assigned billable occupants, and the total number reduced. Processing its data in this way on an ongoing basis will enable Southern Water to maintain accurate data and make it better placed to help customers while consistently hitting Ofwat targets and managing revenue leakage more effectively.
Donna Howden, Head of Customer Service at Southern Water said, “Sagacity’s knowledge and expertise in this area highlighted options and ways of using data that we had never previously considered. Identifying occupiers gives us a true picture of our region, customers and demographics. It enables us to provide our full range of services to customers, especially those who need our support the most. This has never been more critical with the current cost of living crisis impacting so many people.”
Anita Dougall, CEO of Sagacity said, “A large number of people have been reassessing their lives and relocating during the pandemic, but not informing their water company. This poses an additional challenge to Southern Water and other suppliers as they work towards Ofwat targets for reducing the number of void properties.
“At this time, our market leading Occupier Identification solution has made a significantly positive impact, drawing on our extensive industry knowledge, third party and proprietary data and the power of analytics to ensure customer details are correct. Our solution handles the data carefully and allows Southern Water to ‘move in’ new occupiers, so that bills can be sent to the right person at the right time. This puts them on course to meet the Ofwat target and ensures revenue is being collected, water leakage is minimised while also reducing the risk of bill shock for customers navigating the cost-of-living crisis.”