The big question is … what can we learn from the work of the other regulated industries that will help us?
Recent research published by Ofwat (the Water Services Regulation Authority) shows that many customers who have struggled financially due to COVID were not aware that their water companies could provide financial support. The lesson here is clear, communicating to all clients that extra help is available needs to be consistent and constant.
It has been suggested that water firms work with other organisations to share data on their mutual customers;a senior policy manager at the Consumer Council for Water said:
“We’ve recommended that essential service providers and their regulators should collaborate to build an online hub that will be used by companies and customers – or their representatives – to record the individual’s financial and other support needs, and identify options for assistance across ALL services.”
This is in a similar vein to the concept of a Vulnerability Registration Service, a not for profit organisation that is creating a central register where people in vulnerable circumstances can register their status voluntarily.
This approach would prevent someone in a vulnerable situation from having to repeat the same information with multiple firms and organisations.
The concept is simple, but requires multi agency collaboration. Perhaps the UK Regulators Network (that brings together regulators such as the FCA, Ofwat, the Office of Communications and the Regulator of Social Housing) would be a good starting point.
We will wait to see what happens.
In the meantime, we continue to treat those customers in need of extra help with respect, enable them to access appropriate support and strive to provide the personal assistance they need.