Can Price Transparency Improve Customer Satisfaction for Utilities?
- Mar 26, 2020 9:44 pm GMT
“Transparency in business is when a brand maintains open, honest, and accessible communications and relationships with internal and external stakeholders.” – adroll.com
In the last several years, Utilities have made great strides in building transparency with consumers by investing in customer engagement technologies. Examples abound, including multi-channel outage notifications, high-use alerts, and proactive bill reminders, as well as energy portals for viewing energy usage. Of course, Utilities with smart meters are advantaged to have more data to provide better insights for their customers.
However, price transparency is more elusive. Utility billing is notoriously complex with riders, several taxing entities, and block rates measured in KWh, a unit of measure unfamiliar to most consumers. And now as more utilities are rolling out demand charges and TOU rates to supplement roof-top solar and EV adoption, the problem becomes even more complex.
Some utilities are rising to the challenge. The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative recently released a case study on SCE’s TOU rate transition showing SCE’s price transparency. In addition to launching a rate awareness campaign, and defaulting customers to the lowest cost plan, SCE built an online Rate Plan Comparison Tool to allow customers to view how their historic annual usage would be priced on multiple rate plans. Very transparent.
For utilities, price transparency is best achieved with smart meters and an enterprise rating engine providing bill simulation. This allows the utility or the customer to price alternative rate models on both historic and modified load profiles. Modified load profiles allow customers to understand how potential load changes such as EV, solar adoption or load shifting will affect their monthly bill, on multiple rate plans. The simulated costs can be shared via the utility’s my account online or the call center.
“Price transparency can put companies that practice it at a competitive advantage and lift a big weight from the customer psyche,” says Brand Quarterly. For utilities this can mean retaining customers from alternative energy providers and increasing customer satisfaction scores.
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