How Utilities Can Improve the Customer Experience and Increase Revenue
Transforming the customer experience for utility companies can have a direct impact on the bottom line. Positive experiences translate into improved loyalty and opportunities for cross-sell and up-sell, and with the increased deregulation of utilities, a positive experience is essential to keeping ratepayers from defecting to the competition.
However, according to a report by KPMG International, utilities were ranked the lowest for customer experience across all sectors and markets – by a whopping 13%! The report also indicated that utilities were the only sector where feedback indicated that the customer experience had actually worsened in the past 12 months. In another study published on the Harvard Business Review, only 43% of utilities customers who have a negative experience are still members after a year, compared to 74% of those who’ve had a positive experience.
Admittedly, there are items out of a utility company’s control. Poor weather, volatility of energy costs, and other natural challenges to service reliability cannot be controlled. However, utilities can control a variety of other factors involved in creating positive customer experiences. Improved customer engagement, personalized targeting, and easier access to information across mobile and digital channels top the list of what utility companies should be doing now.
According to a study by Accenture, “Utilities customer engagement efforts need to recognize that they are serving a new generation of tech-savvy customers, who expect:
- A smarter experience with personalized service and advice on home-energy management.
- Help with reducing the household energy bill. Customers want detailed online access to their energy usage information, as well as tips and suggestions on what to do to lower their monthly bill.
- Extension of the mobile online experience. It won’t be long until more people will be accessing the Internet on mobile devices than by any other method. Consumers said they would like two things on their mobile devices: (1) to receive notifications on their home energy usage, and (2) to be able to remotely access and operate home temperature controls.”
Improved Digital Experiences
Digitally engaged consumers are more valuable customers. For example, by encouraging homes and businesses to move to online self-service, research has shown that these customers have higher brand loyalty, better experiences, and contribute more to new revenue streams.
However, the Accenture study revealed that only 44% of consumers are digitally engaged. Many customers (41%) believe that digital engagement with utility providers is more difficult than with other providers.
With increased competition, deregulation, and renewable energy alternatives, utilities must invest in facilitating better digital experiences to meet consumer demands. To encourage more consumers to use online services, utilities must prove that it’s an easy alternative to a call center or paper mail. To show this value proposition, utilities need to blend data and analytics to create personalized digital experiences and anticipate customer needs. It also means using customer-centric processes to create “digital experiences that are simple, innovative, and empowering for customers.” And the results are well worth it. For example, 73% of digital users are more likely to sign up for home energy generation products and have 41% more trust in their energy provider.
Personalized Service and Experiences
Across many industries, businesses are learning that delivering more positive experiences across a wide range of customer interactions to increase ROI and market share. Providing positive and personalized customer experiences presents an opportunity for utility companies to engage customers in new ways, and build an energy partnership with customers.
Personalized services and experiences can only happen with the right mix of data and analytics in order to understand consumer behaviors across every touchpoint. By blending first-party data with rich third-party enhancement and behavioral data, utility marketers can create finely targeted messages to the right person across the right channels.
An Accenture global study, “Revealing the Values of the New Energy Consumer,” noted: “As more consumers gain access to smart in-home technologies, utilities have the opportunity to offer new, value-added products and services in both regulated and competitive markets. However, these opportunities will likely attract new market players and may lead to industry convergence. Utilities that embrace the perceptions and behaviors of their consumers will ultimately generate the most value in the evolving energy marketplace.”
The right blend of data, digital engagement, and targeted consumer insights leads to great customer experiences for today’s utility consumers. And by delivering a positive experience, utilities can interact with customers more personally, deliver relevant services and offers, and ultimately increase customer satisfaction and revenue.
To learn how to develop successful customer analytic initiatives to grow profits and increase efficiency, download this free Utilities Marketing data Solutions Guide.