Circle Insights

Data Science in the water sector – How to create behavioural change

Louise Foster

Engaging customers in an industry without direct competition can be a difficult conundrum – how do you effectively engage your customers in your services, and drive behaviour change to meet water efficiency goals?

Recently, CACI held a roundtable for the water sector to dive into the approaches that have been taken to understand customers, personalise communications and ultimately drive the behaviour change needed to keep down demand.

CACI Data and the Benefit for Customer Insight – Penny Walton, United Utilities

United Utilities has been on a journey to better understand its customers and to ensure that when interacting with them, this communication is through the right channels with the right messages.

In order to achieve this, CACI has created a bespoke segmentation that uses CACI’s household level demographic data in combination with United Utilities’ transactional data to segment the United Utilities customers into one of eight segments. The primary focus of this was to meet customer requirements, improve communications, and focus resources through considering ‘how do we want customers to feel and behave when we interact with them’.

The segmentation has been used throughout the business to drive improvements in communication with customers, ensuring that these are delivered through the channels that the customers prefer, and creating a better quality of communication. This has been used effectively across billing, priority services, metering, switching to digital, and water efficiency.

Having this approach in place during Covid has been vital as it’s ensured targeted communications to reach the right customers through the right channels and fundamentally it has given United Utilities the ability to reach out to customers with lower affordability with bespoke messaging that is designed to resonate with the different segments.

The customer segmentation now frames every aspect that is looked at when considering communicating with customers.

Driving behavioural change with actionable insight – Ed Sewell, Data Strategy Partner at CACI

When considering an example outside of the water sector, Change4Life is an excellent example of creating behavioural change through actionable insight. It has been incredibly successful at driving behaviour change in hard to reach groups and has now been running for 11 years.

Through creating highly engaging and personalised messages, the government was able to reach high risk groups and, all-importantly, to keep them engaged overtime to really reach the key goals of the programme.

There were a number of different campaigns that came out of the programme, some of which have been highly memorable such as ‘Couch to 5k’, and all of which were based from segmentation and underlying data that drove the personalisation and engagement.

Whilst this is an example of a highly effective government led behaviour change strategy, these techniques and approach can be applied to the water sector to increase customer engagement and drive behaviour change around water efficiency and responsibility.

Key Takeaways

The most resounding point shared during the discussion was the power of adding data and data science to customer insights and understanding, as it supports creating more effective communication, drives down costs, and creates better outcomes.

Here are some of the key insights and takeaways that were shared:

  • Significant uptakes have been seen in affordability programmes due to reaching the right customers
  • Blending customer transactional data, complaints data, and demographic data is key to creating actionable insights
  • Being able to focus on those that are interested in engaging with water efficiency and being able to amend messaging for the different types of customers (whether they are more interested in environment, cost, savings, etc.) makes a big difference in driving change
  • It’s about getting the right messages to the right people
  • This approach supports driving down operational costs as majority of customers move digital
  • Ultimately, more personalised content drives better outcomes
  • Interest in the environment and concern around climate change is at the highest yet so now is a key time to increase focus on water efficiency
  • Ensuring that there are no ethical issues in the build of the segmentation or the resulting communications

What’s Next

Look out for our next roundtable in the series which will be focussed on the power of population projections for the water sector.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch should you want to hear more!

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Louise Foster