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Question

Is there any research that shows which specific behind-the-meter-products or services build the most loyalty with customers?

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Special Note: This question was posed during a recent Energy Central PowerSession: Maximizing Beyond-the-Meter Revenue Opportunities

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Plenty of research from the major consulting firms and surveys conducted to utility customers supports the affinity of CSAT and customer loyalty from several product categories.  And, a number of practical measures conducted by some of the largest firms supporting utilities and their customers generally affirm that research.

Accenture, Deloitte, EY and PWC each published research in the past several years summarizing the general disposition of customers to hear more from their utilities, offer new products and services, and support new types of engagement.  Those reports also indicated from survey data that utility customers who purchased products from their utility or were more digitally engaged via email, social media and/or an eCommerce portal reported higher satisfaction with those types of experiences.

Strict data varies by product category and region, certainly, but most utilities with eCommerce marketplaces or offering Beyond the Meter customer solutions report higher satisfaction from those channels and programs.  The major vendors of service contracts, for example, have similar data supporting customer satisfaction and loyalty.

And, those reports make sense from a customer experience perspective, as well.  If a utility offers new customers a range of helpful services related to a move, those customers who take advantage of those offers solve multiple tasks in a single call, and often receive some value-add benefits or special savings.  It makes sense that those customers would report a more favorable engagement with their utility than customers who aren't able to recieve those services.

Similarly, utility customers who purchase a smart thermostat from their utility to save money in their homes are likely to have a very favorable disposition toward their utility when those savings materialize on the bill.  And, customers who purchase a repair and protection plan from their utility will likely have a very favorable sense of loyalty to that company, especially when they receive support for a claim or reimbursement for a repair that would otherwise have cost considerable expense.

That's not to say that all product categories make sense for a utility marketplace or in a Beyond the Meter program, but the logical range of products and services related to the move, or the comfort, safety, and enjoyment of the home has yet to be exhausted by utility programs.  We think the current data supports further expansion of offers, which remain relatively limited in most Beyond the Meter solutions, today.

Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on Jan 4, 2021

Sorry if this is a dumb question, but what is the benefit of building loyalty in the utility sector where most customers don't get to choose their electricity provider?

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 4, 2021

I think it's actually a great question, Henry-- and I'm sure Mark will have more in depth answers than I do. But when I had the same question recently the answers I was given was essentially that utilities need buy-in and trust from their customers for reasons other than 'keep them happy or they'll leave'-- for example, if utilities want to be able to reach customers with efficiency programs, demand management opportunities, community engagement programs, etc., then it really behooves them to have a great reputation and standing with the customers. If the only customer service interactions they have are negative and frustrating, they won't want to build on that utility-customer relationship in any way that would actually be mutually beneficial because that base level of trust will be eroded. 

Curious to hear what the other experts in the community have to say about the matter, as I'm sure there are other critical reasons!

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