‘Outstanding’ partnership to help vulnerable people in communities

A partnership between the University of Dundee and the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has been awarded the highest grade of ‘Outstanding’ by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Findings from the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) have resulted in an increased understanding of and commitment to delivering a better service to SSEN’s most vulnerable customers in the north of Scotland and central southern England.

Dr. Edward Hall, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University, said, “The partnership between University of Dundee and SSEN has been a huge success, as recognised by Innovate UK's award of 'Outstanding'. The research team including Dr. Irena Connon, Professor Thilo Kroll and myself, worked closely with colleagues at SSEN to understand, and then transform, how the company supports 'vulnerable' people within communities.

“It is incredibly satisfying to see how the company has changed its whole approach to vulnerability, directly as a result of the KTP, appreciating that anyone can become vulnerable given a particular combination of circumstances.

“It is increasingly important for universities to demonstrate that research has significant impacts on society and the economy - this KTP project is an excellent example of this.”

The project identified a knowledge gap in the understanding of vulnerability, leading SSEN to provide specialist training to employees in its customer contact centres and depots, helping the organisation provide the most appropriate service for each of its customers. This training allows SSEN staff to adopt a very wide definition of vulnerability, assess and consider each situation and respond to customers as individuals.

Lisa Doogan, Director of Customer Relationship Management at SSEN, said, “The Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Dundee has been a crucial step in SSEN becoming a truly customer focused organisation. This project has directly informed our strategic priorities for supporting our customers and we are delighted with the award of ‘Outstanding’ from Innovate UK to recognise the hard work our teams put in to deliver a better service for those most vulnerable in our communities.

“We have spent time educating our employees to treat every customer as an individual, understand that their circumstances may change and appreciate that they may suddenly find themselves feeling vulnerable. The learning from the partnership has undoubtedly transformed the way we interact with and serve our customers.”

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a three-way partnership between a business, an academic institution and a graduate, bringing new skills and knowledge to the business and bridging existing knowledge gaps within the organisation.


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