Customer experience is proving to be more important than ever. Utilities must optimize a positive digital experience for their customers by constantly re-evaluating new approaches and learn from best cases in other industries and adapt them to the needs of the energy customer.
The customer at the centre
As discussed in last week’s blog post, deregulation and liberalization of energy markets have revolutionized the utility’s environment. Utilities must adapt certain components to be able to consider themselves modern.
These include distinctive communication, effective segmentation and customer satisfaction which are driven forward by positive customer experience and a well-rounded, differentiated brand.
All of the above components revolve around the increasing need to become more customer-centric. Utilities have not turned a blind eye to this. In fact, most utilities in both regulated and deregulated environments have made changes to move away from focusing on themselves and their assets towards an emphasis on the consumer.
However, the actions to become more customer-centric are often siloed off in specific departments and are not in harmony with the overall corporate strategy.
This is something you will want to avoid as much as possible. In a recent Capgemini study, 118 out of 160 organizations said that siloed initiatives are the main barrier to successful transformation.
Thus, it is essential to the transforming utility to create and successfully integrate a business model that fulfills new market demands while simultaneously delivering profitability and staying true to the strategic vision of the company.
Using digitization for greater customer experience
New sector policies, lower profit margins, and changes in consumer wants and needs have made previously reliable business models obsolete. However, the emergence of new technology has paved the way for business models better suited for modern circumstances which in turn carry with them new revenue streams and new touchpoints with consumers.
Learn from other industries
Utilities are slow by nature. They have been so since the beginning, but it doesn’t mean they have to continue being slow.
The utility can adapt many things from other more fast-paced industries. Digitization is happening everywhere and it is making everyday life easier. Utilities should not ignore this trend but actively pursue it. Considering customer experience, it can be better to start small as in these situations, it are often the little things that matter the most. A good place to start is the customer journey.
Optimize the customer journey
A customer journey is the steps the consumer takes to complete a certain task. It can take as little as a few seconds or as much as many weeks or months depending the nature of the task. The more involvement and cognitive thinking needed from the consumer the longer the journey will take.
The picture below outlines the customer journeys and processes that utility customers encounter.
According to McKinsey, four journeys matter most to the utility customer’s satisfaction. It identifies billing and paying as the most important, followed by managing energy usage, outage, and resolving bills.
We now have four major touchpoints with the consumer which we derived from the consumer journey, all of which can be optimized for customer satisfaction with digitization.
By conducting customer surveys from this point, utilities can learn where its customer pain points are and what they would like to do to resolve them. For example, a skillfully crafted visual representation of the consumer’s energy usage can be a good way to induce a surprise-delight response and increase customer satisfaction with the help of digital instruments.
After conducting customer surveys, observational studies can provide useful insight and help to solve problems the consumer was not aware he even had. For example, Accenture noted in its report that one utility noticed that there was no easy way to split bills for multiple tenants. The utility eliminated the problem and created a solution that delivers a true wow moment to the troubled consumers.
“Frequently taking note of the little things is the key to our success”
Utilities are not exempt from the demands for more fluid customer experience. New technology emerges every day that enables smart integrations throughout the value chain, from the customer journey to the company’s core operations. Energy brands with a more digital approach in customer relations will deliver superior customer experience, and by doing so, create strong customer loyalty which will ultimately result in sustained profitability.