Our take on the Utility Week Consumer Vulnerability & Debt Conference 2021

Written on
byHayfa Bukhari

On the 14th and 15th September 2021, team Aveni had the opportunity to showcase virtually at this year’s Consumer Vulnerability & Debt Digital Conference. This was the first time we attended a Utility Week event. It came at such a significant time as we see how the current energy market is facing major challenges in meeting  the needs of their customers. 


As debt levels continue to rise and more customers find themselves in vulnerable circumstances, utilities must overcome funding challenges, GDPR uncertainty as well as improve customer trust to be able to offer the best possible service to those in need. As this sector goes through its path to recover following the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial that energy and water companies work together to strengthen relationships, communication as well as engagement with customers in vulnerable situations. 


Over the two days we heard from a number of Utility Week’s guest speakers including leaders in  customer, regulation, strategy, billing, debt and collection . We were right at the centre of where we could collaborate and share knowledge at such a critical time for the industry. Throughout the day, the organisers lined up a variety of engaging speakers all eager to make a positive impact on the current challenges faced by the industry. 


In particular, we heard from Steve Crabb from Energy UK. He spoke of the vulnerability commitment founded in 2020 and how their commitments are driving change. The three key focus areas are: 


Collaboration: Organisations have been reviewing their funding of charities as well as other agentis to build partnerships for the first time 


Innovation: Suppliers who are participating have been rethinking ways they can use insights from customers with lived experiences to improve services


Leadership: All firms involved have vulnerability champions at board level or equivalent 


It’s great to hear how the vulnerability commitment is heading in the right direction and how companies will be increasingly  held accountable for their actions. This will also determine future trends and help to build a stronger foundation of companies that will strive to provide customers in vulnerable situations with the support they truly need. 


Another speaker which stood out was Anita Dougall from Sagacity Solutions. She was discussing the impact of using poor data. She highlighted how having invalid customer information creates poor eligibility identification and the importance of using innovation and technology to improve the way in which we interact with customers. 


She was able to point out how powerful data is and what can be done to best optimise the information. Utility companies need to clearly define what a vulnerable customer is as well as learn how to best serve them as well as record exactly what issues they are faced as a customer so they can be handled with care. As well as this, companies  must ensure the information held about their customers is clean, accurate and easily accessible to assess a customer’s eligibility. 


The key message taken from this conference is that vulnerability is very much a complex topic and needs to be considered in all aspects of our day to day lives. We must continue to do research and clearly define what vulnerable situations could impact a customer at any one time. Organisations need to be proactive and accommodating to ensure customer needs are met as well as continuous training and innovation from companies to keep up-to-date with developments and provide support where it is needed the most. 


Thank you to Utility Week and everyone who we met on during the two days, it was a highly informative event and we look forward to attending more conferences like this in the future.


To learn more about what Aveni can do for you and how we can support your business visit our customer vulnerability page.

Other recent posts

Podcast logos-03

AI’ll Take Your Job

Join Joseph Twigg and Jamie Hunter, the dynamic duo of financial services and AI, as they unleash their wit and wisdom on the game-changing influence of recent AI development on the industry.  

Replay social 2-06

An Introduction to ChatGPT in Financial Advice

Our CEO Joseph Twigg was joined by Iria Del Rio, our lead NLP engineer to talk about the explosive rise of ChatGPT and other large language models, what got us here and what this...

Three confident business people having discussion while working in the office together

Beyond the basics: Debunking common QA assumptions in financial services

Quality assurance (QA) is a critical business function, ensuring that products and services are compliant with regulation and meet customer needs. However, there are some common assumptions about QA within the financial services industry...

Board member and FCA proposal

Aveni partners with Delta Capita to power their Consumer Duty offering

Aveni has partnered with Delta Capita, a leading global capital markets consulting, managed services and technology provider, to advance their Consumer Duty offering by providing their clients with access to our cutting edge AI...

limitation of ChatGPT in financial services

Limitations of adopting chatGPT and other large language models in the financial services industry

There has recently been a lot of hype surrounding ChatGPT, and other large language models (LLM’s) and rightly so. Their extensive capabilities make them impactful for a wide range of use cases across various...

It pays to plan properly for the future. Cropped shot of a senior couple getting advice from their financial consultant.

Age Partnership selects Aveni Detect platform to enhance customer outcomes and mitigate risks

Aveni.ai, has been selected by Age Partnership, one of the UK’s leading Equity Release Advisory firms, to revolutionise its Quality Assurance systems setting new standards for customer service and outcomes.     Following a successful...


Demonstrating Consumer Duty Compliance with Technology - Key Takeaways from Aveni’s recent webinar

In our latest Consumer Duty webinar series,”Demonstrating Consumer Duty Compliance with Technology,” Joseph Twigg, CEO of Aveni, sat down with John Liver, Strategic Adviser at Kore and NED at Barclays, and Alan Blanchard, Head...

Aveni SPW

Schroders Personal Wealth adopts AI-based Aveni Detect platform to transform compliance function

Aveni, has been selected by Schroders Personal Wealth (SPW) to transform its compliance function. Through the deployment of the Aveni Detect platform SPW will use the latest advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) to...


Human in the loop 101: what is it and why is it so important?

Financial services firms have been turning to Natural Language Processing (NLP) solutions to extract valuable insights from vast amounts of unstructured data. But even the most advanced algorithms can’t match the intuition and creativity...