Transforming the utilities’ value chain through customer centricity

Posted on August 2, 2016

With customer’s becoming highly aware and informed in the modern digitally connected world, the traditional stagnant relationship between a utility and its customers is shifting drastically. Utilities are no longer seen as just a commodity provider, but instead are moving to become more of a service provider. This shift is occurring as customers’ expectation from their utility provider has moved beyond just delivery of uninterrupted supply and traditional billing and payments to being a partner in promoting energy efficiency and savings efforts of their customers. Thus, utilities are reshaping their business models through utilization of exploring the latest avenues in digital and mobile technology and social media to establish a real time, two-way communication with their customers. The delivery of these value added services can offer customer-centric experiences leading to improved customer satisfaction, leading to an increased ROIs for the utility. This is a win-win situation for customers and their utility. The enhanced customer experience results in higher customer acquisition and retention rate, thereby having an upward positive impact on utilities.

By deploying and adopting a customer-centric approach, utilities can proactively engage with their customers. It creates a pull-push relationship vs. the traditional push relationship. As customers expect utilities to provide them undisrupted, reliable and predictable supply, quick service restoration in case of outages, hassle-free billing and payment cycles, and much more customer engagement that they have come to expect from companies like Amazon and Apple, an active customer engagement campaign by utilities will serve the expectations of the new utility customer.

A customer-centric approach ensures two-way communication between a utility and its customers. The real value of this customer engagement is evident from the fact that the customer feels involved and accountable for their consumption patterns. The customer is now more proactive in terms of participation in demand response, peak load shedding, energy efficiency and water conservation.

Using technological advancements such as cloud based platforms, utilities can access real-time customer data from smart meters and smart grids. With an increased focus on delivering customer-centric services, utilities can deploy analytics tools that can convert this data to gain improved visibility and insights into the consumption data, pattern and trend analysis. With providing more data to the customer, the customer can now be informed of excess usage and then change their behavior to proactively adopt measures towards energy sustainability and water conservation. This has a direct effect on utilities as, utilities in turn are able to achieve the state mandates on reducing carbon footprints and water conservation.

Utilities now can have a 360 degree view of customer interactions if they embrace new technology platforms that are available to them. They will be able to deliver the right targeted response at the right time. A customer-centric approach helps them to timely address a wide array of customers’ concerns. Thus, a customer centric approach helps utilities transform the traditional delivery model and push the curve forward on engaging their customers in a new services delivery approach.

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