4 transformation trends in utilities customer experience
- Oct 2, 2020 12:28 pm GMT
Utilities companies are not usually renowned for the experiences of their users. As a service, customers barely notice their interactions with their utilities until they get an email notifying them that the price has gone up again, an incorrect bill, or a notification that they need to reach into that cupboard under the stairs again for a meter read. However, 2020 has brought together a melting pot of pressure to change, with utilities companies balancing aggressive margin pressure, with the challenges brought by Covid-19 and increasing comparisons with service levels delivered by companies in other industries – including the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
Utilities companies are rising to the challenge, decommoditising a commodity business and overhauling the very definition of customer experience in utilities.
1. Customer engagement tactics to improve loyalty and reduce switching
Traditionally, the utilities industry has been a low-touch, low engagement service which customers take for granted even though it underpins every aspect of daily life. With the typical customer spending just five minutes a year dealing with energy issues, it’s clear there’s plenty of scope to increase engagement and loyalty, but this can only be done through highly targeted and meaningful interactions and services.
2. A revolution in debt collection processes
The utilities sector has always struggled with consumer debt due to its duty to supply. However this problem has been exacerbated as a result of the global pandemic, with a sharp increase in vacant commercial properties resulting in violation of commercial supply contracted usage volumes, cessation of debt collection activities in some cases, households struggling to keep up with their bills and changing patterns of consumption in combination with a reduction in meter read frequency. This means that for utilities companies, cash flow management is now more urgent than ever before. The question still remains: how can technology can help you to protect and maintain your cash flow in the face of this unprecedented uncertainty.
3. Shifting the ‘vulnerable customer’ narrative
As a result of the ongoing global virus pandemic, it has become more important than ever that utilities companies protect and empower their consumers in vulnerable situations. The virus has heightened the impact of being vulnerable, whilst increasing the proportion of the population that fall into the category. The industry is now spending less time considering the definition of vulnerability and more time designing and testing solutions that are valuable for all customers.
4. Value-added services to compensate for price rises
Increasingly, in a world of blockchain and AI-driven disintermediation, utility companies will need to find ways to add real value and meaning to customer’s lives. Indeed, 91 per cent of surveyed utility executives think it’s vital that energy and water companies provide value-added services in order to avoid being further commoditised. These services could well involve generating useful insights that will help the customer better manage their energy usage, reduce bills and lessen their environmental footprint. Product bundling could also prove a useful innovation, perhaps pulling together energy, water, home maintenance and insurance into one tariff, adding real convenience to customers with scope to build-in additional margin.
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