This blog is inspired by a very interesting article on Intelligent Utility.
As far as customer relationships go, consumers do not often consider their relationship with their utility as anything special. Think about it: when is the last time you experienced outstanding customer service and felt admiration or loyalty for your utility company? Potentially never, and most likely not as recently as the joy you felt from your favorite retailer. Most customers expect a simple give-and-take relationship: utilities provide a service and consumers pay for that service. Utilities, however, need to transform this relationship to withstand your new expectations, evolving technology disruptions and market trends. Third-party energy vendors, many with consumer technologies, have infiltrated the utility space and raised customer expectations. In short, the time has come for utilities to change from their traditional service model into a more valuable, customer-focused model.
The Digital Consumer
We live in a digital world – consumers are accustomed to using technology on a daily basis to track their behavior and interact with the outside world. So why don’t utilities take advantage of this predictable consumer behavior? Smartphones, tablets, and laptops have become seamlessly integrated into everyday life and consumers are accustomed to communicating with companies through online channels. Utilities, therefore, need to replace static websites and inefficient customer service call centers with real-time, interactive communication streams. By doing so, utilities can revolutionize their relationship with customers to provide superior service and create loyal, happy customers.
Additionally consumers have a desire to develop a collaborative relationship with utilities in order to reduce their energy costs and be “green.” According to a recent U.S. Consumer Energy report by Nielsen, the top incentives to change energy consumption behaviors are cost savings and environmental concerns. Utilities, therefore, should provide personalized energy data and energy-saving tips to communicate with customers. With smart home devices and new applications, collecting consumer data and producing informative reports has never been easier. According to the report, almost sixty percent of consumers are willing to pay more for appliances and devices that are environmentally friendly. Combined with the digital orientation of consumers and desire for spectacular customer service, utilities should build friendships with customers and empower them to become energy-wise consumers.