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COVID-19 Utilities Customer Experience – Up Your Game

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Rob Girvan's picture
Individual Contributor self

20+ years in Enterprise Software Applications in the Energy Industry, including ERP, Meter to Cash, CRM, Customer Engagement.

  • Member since 2013
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  • May 7, 2020 9:20 pm GMT
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It’s possible you headed into the COVID-19 crisis thinking your customer experience game is already strong. That’s great—but I’d encourage you to think again. – Forbes.com

COVID-19 is affecting nearly every aspect of Utility Operations, especially Customer Engagement.  More than 30 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits since mid-March.   Three in five consumers report some level of concern about rising energy costs during shelter-in-place, and summer is coming; meaning that transparently communicating energy costs and energy saving tips has become a key aspect of the new normal in customer engagement.

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But wait, Utilities do transparently share energy costs and provide energy savings tips.  Yes, I agree. What I am suggesting is a new normal for energy transparency, including daily bill-to-date, bill forecasts, best rate analysis, and proactively analyzing customer energy usage to provide monetized and personalized energy savings ideas.

Proactive, Monetized and Personalized Energy Savings

With record unemployment, now is the time for Utilities to go one step further and provide personalized energy saving recommendations.  By combining smart meter data with an Enterprise Rating Engine Utilities have the capability to analyze customers’ usage and make personalized recommendations with accurately calculated bill savings.

Similar to the famous Geico quote “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance,” if you spend some time, perhaps longer than 15 minutes on your local utility’s website, you can probably find some ways to save on electricity.  The suggestions and potential savings will be geared toward everyone in general, not you specifically.  Some of the suggestions will not apply to you or your situation and the savings numbers will be for the average consumer.

Imagine this scenario…you log into your Utility’s website, a pop-up displays “We have analyzed your usage and bill and have recommendations to save you 15% on your future electric bills”.   The suggestions could be one or more of several options the utility has analyzed using your specific usage history, including a connected thermostat or water heater, switching rate plans or participating in community solar.  The best part is that it is proactive and personalized.

Best Rate Analysis

The increase of work-from-home and the closing of non-essential businesses has dramatically changed how and when Utility customers are using electricity.  Many utilities offer multiple rate plans especially for C&I customers.  Another brand building exercise for Utilities is to perform a best rate analysis for all customers.  A COVID-19 best rate plan analysis would analyze each customer’s usage profile since mid-March across all applicable rate plans, matching each customer with their new best rate plan.

Daily Bill to Date and Bill Forecast

Similar to how banks and credit card companies provide anytime access to customer balances, Utilities can provide consumers with anytime access to their bill-to-date balances.  By providing the cost of electricity since their last bill customers can track their spending and better plan their monthly bills.  In addition, bill forecast projects how much the customer’s bill will be at the end of the monthly billing cycle.   Daily Bill-to-Date and Bill Forecast can be provided by an Enterprise Rating Engine and can provide important information to 30 Million Americans that have recently filed for unemployment benefits.

“Brands that take proactive steps to comfort customers and protect their safety and financial confidence will earn a strong reputation, which will benefit in the long run.” – Forbes.com

Using these strategies Utilities can up their customer experience game and help the millions of Americans affected financially by the COVID crisis.

Rob Girvan's picture
Thank Rob for the Post!
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