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2019: The year of the personalized utility

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Travis Rhodes's picture
Sr. Product Marketing Manager EnergySavvy

Travis has spent the first 10 years of his utility career working for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. During that time he was able to work in many customer facing departments such as...

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  • Jan 24, 2019 11:15 pm GMT

This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-01 - Predictions & Trends, click here for more

Companies like Amazon and Netflix have created engaging and personalized experiences that customers are not only expecting from other service providers but also from their utility. In 2019, personalization will move beyond being a buzzword to a requirement for utilities. This means going beyond customer segmentation and enabling a personalized experience for each customer on their preferred channel—whether it be email, website, MyAccount, contact center, text, IoT, or others. But to do this, utilities need to first unite relevant customer and program data to rank each offer and message for each customer. Fortunately, modern personalization software can make this possible in just months—not years. Here are the top five trends we predict to see in 2019:

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CX: Getting the basics right

But as utilities focus on personalizing customer interactions, they must also ensure that they are getting the basics right. For example, many customers interact with their utility primarily through billing and payments––making these customer experiences critical for a utility across both paper and digital formats. By journey mapping key customer journeys, a utility can easily identify the pain points of each process and work quickly to address these issues. This can have an immediate impact on customer satisfaction scores.

Digital: Transitioning towards self-serve channels

Part of getting the basics right means transitioning tasks and services to digital. While many utility customers, particularly those 55 and older, still continue to prefer traditional communication channels, the trend is clearly moving to digital self-service channels which allow customers to make informed decisions. Not only does this meet customers’ growing expectations, but it can also automate and streamline processes for utilities.

LMI: Engaging and expanding segment

While low-to-moderate income customers have always been an important segment for utilities to engage, today’s utilities are looking to do more for this segment by providing increased access to energy-efficient housing, distributed generation resources, and clean transportation. However, what worked 10 years ago in engaging these customers is no longer effective today. And utilities are struggling to identify qualifying customers and make them aware of these new offerings in a cost-effective manner––making personalization even more important.

TOU: AMI made real

California is leading the way for rolling out complex new time-of-use rates (TOU), with other states following––something not even possible before AMI data. But these roll-outs can result in customer dissatisfaction and negative PR due to confusion around the value of TOU rates to consumers. Placing residential customers onto new TOU rate plans smoothly means identifying potential issues before they snowball, engaging customers throughout the entire process, and providing personalized messages so customers can take control of their energy usage.

Revenue: Where to go to grow

For years utilities counted on a steady increase in energy usage by their customers to stay profitable., However, energy efficiency policies over the last several decades and the proliferation of solar have caused load growth to flatten or decline in some regions. customers have more choices around their energy use where some consumers can select a different provider or generate their own energy altogether. Utilities can offset their revenue through programs such as online marketplaces, electric vehicle charging, community solar, energy efficiency projects, and more.

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Thank Travis for the Post!
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