Frontier Economics hosted a workshop on how to design and implement customer research that can improve the quality of business plans in regulated sectors. Leading figures from across a range of regulated sectors (water, aviation, and energy) discussed the challenges associated with designing research that is cognitively valid and provides genuine insights for business plans.
Regulators across all sectors are requiring companies to engage with customers more than ever when developing their business plans. It can be particularly challenging for regulated companies to carry out valid customer research, and meet this regulatory expectation. This is for a number of reasons, but mainly because customers generally have low awareness of the services being provided, and also often perceive there to be a lack of choice. Insights from Behavioural Economics (BE) can help design innovative approaches to address these challenges.
At the workshop, Annabelle Ong and Rob Francis (Frontier) spoke about the challenges associated with how to carry out customer research in regulated sectors, and how to address those challenges in practice. Jon Ashley (Ofwat) gave the regulatory perspective on this topic, and emphasised the importance of customer research at PR19, noting that it will play a key role in Ofwat’s assessment of business plans. Frank Grimshaw and Sarah Jenner (United Utilities) spoke about how they had responded to Ofwat’s challenge, by designing the first immersive research on resilience issues, and had also developed an advanced approach for triangulating their customer research to provide insights for their business plan. Kathryn Greenhalgh (Heathrow) spoke about how to design the overall customer engagement plan, including how to engage with customers and airlines.
Frontier regularly advises regulators and companies on how BE insights can be applied to design innovative customer research, and also applies its regulatory expertise to ensure the insights from the customer research are useful to inform business plans.
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