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SUPA-NZ Award Trustpower first Age Friendly Accreditation

MEDIA RELEASE

SUPA-NZ Award Trustpower for Age Friendliness

For immediate release

Friday 22 August, 2014

Trustpower is the first company to complete the SUPA-NZ (Seniors United to Promote an Age-Friendly New Zealand) business accreditation process. A ceremony was held in Tauranga today, with the Hon, Simon Bridges, Minister for Energy and Resources, presenting the award to representatives of the multi-utilities company.

The SUPA-NZ social audit process for Trustpower contributed to changes to the customer bill. It is now more readable, with a focus on relevant information. The company website and various print materials have also been redesigned to provide the information needed by an ageing population.

“We’ve had lots of positive feedback from our customers of all ages regarding the new simplified bill format,” says Graeme Purches, Community Relations Manager at Trustpower.

“Things like it was easier to read, the print was a better colour and bigger, the bill was easier to understand and that customers appreciated the thought and efforts that had gone into to making these changes for our mature customers,” says Graeme.

“We’ve also learnt you can’t assume everyone sees things one way. We sent customers a picture of our new-look bill in our newsletter, with a total of $37.00 to pay on it for demonstration purposes. Several customers then paid us this amount, even though the sample was addressed to ‘A Customer’!”

So some customers got some welcome news with their next bill that they had a credit of $37.00, explains Graeme.

The assessment is undertaken by an audit team of elders and is an iterative process with the company agreeing to the indicators that will be used to measure the company’s progress.

Steve Merchant, Trustpower’s Service Delivery Manager says the process opened up great communication channels between Trustpower and the audit team.

“It has really made us think about how we take what we learnt into our future business planning process. We would thoroughly recommend companies go through the SUPA-NZ accreditation process.”

SUPA-NZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise that aims to make New Zealand age friendly.

SUPA-NZ supports itself through operating a business and does not rely on government grants and charities.

The SUPA-NZ Accreditation Programme is based on similar programmes in cities around the globe, including New York and Manchester, UK.

Carole Gordon, National Convenor of SUPA-NZ, says there is compelling evidence of New Zealand’s population aging.

“Over one million New Zealanders will soon be using a SuperGold Card,” says Carole.

Mr Purches says that for Trustpower, this presented an opportunity to ensure the responsible and special care of our mature customers,

“We value our mature and older customers and wanted to find out how we could improve our customer service to this sector. We recognise that we have a part in keeping mature and older customers independent,“ says Graeme.

“With the number of people aged 65 and over projected to double by 2036, tailoring customer services to attract the increasing ‘silver’ dollar makes good business sense,” Mr Bridges says.

“There are more mature and older New Zealanders living longer and shopping more than ever before”, says Carole

“Mature and older people outspend younger consumers and have more time to shop. We are encouraging other companies to become SUPA-NZ accredited to ensure they don’t miss out on what, based on recent research, is $43 billion of business.”

ENDS

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