The Obligation to Improve Customer Experience
The world today is talking about connected technology, connected society, connected citizens and a connected world. All major global businesses including the utilities have started acknowledging this concept of digital connectivity aimed at changing not just the dynamics of business processes but also the dynamics with their consumers.
If we look back a couple of years to how utilities operated, it was traditional approach of being an energy provider and there was a huge gap between utilities and their customers. However, with the shift towards digital technology, this has not only led to a holistic business transition but also transformed the utility customer relationship. It has been made possible with the increased technological awareness & higher adoption by global utilities that all stakeholders are connected at any given point of time. One of the biggest challenges faced by the global utilities today is the “unprecedented shift in customer expectations” & this happens because customers today want to be well informed about everything. Thus, we are increasingly seeing a customer centric or customer driven approach in all the businesses and utilities are no exception. Today’s customer expects a highly personalized customer experience from their service providers including the utilities. Thus, technology is enabling utilities with competence that equips their customers with self service capabilities, such that they are able to participate in their major decision making process regarding consumption, behavioral patterns and the larger cause of sustainability. Customers do not just wish to be consumers of electricity or water or gas but they want to be informed about all their activities and how their consumption patterns impact the environment or the future.
The latest technologies have made it possible for utilities to improve the customer satisfaction in the following ways:
The well informed consumers of today can make their own informed decisions based on the insights shared by their utilities. However, the traditional utilities were not able to communicate with consumers & failed to share vital information with them. As, information technology came into picture, it has innovated the entire value chain of utilities. Knowing where your energy consumption is higher and where you can save it enables you to use your energy devices and appliances more efficiently. With the growth in mobile, social and other interactive and intuitive technologies that are available on digital platforms, customers are well informed and are in control of their consumption and choices. The way these technologies keep the customers informed greatly impacts the customer experience, thus leading to enhanced customer satisfaction.
Impact through Motivation!!
Through real time data analysis in terms of consumption pattern, usage analytics, data consumption detail in every hour and ability to compare these data obtained, designed to motivate customers to reduce energy use through personalized saving tips & educational tips. Using comparisons analytics with the similar size houses, customers are informed and they feel motivated to reduce energy use and start conserving the resources. Unlike traditional utilities, the digital utilities today realize the importance of distributed energy generation and how this can share the load of the grid. They are keen to integrate distributed generation sources and also educate the customers about the positive impact on the environment and even how they in turn can save on their utility bills. Thus, net metering contributes not only to the financial viability of electric utilities, but, also motivate customers to move towards higher adoption of renewables.
Similarly, recommendation of effective personalized energy and water conservation programs based on the consumers’ usage pattern & load profiles, can also be an effective tool on motivating them to proactively participate in conservation efforts. In the long run, the customers see the value in terms of savings and also the positive impact that they can have on the environment, thus, leading to increased customer satisfaction.
As a part of large initiative towards customer centricity, the utility industry can empower the customers through various technologies such as cloud, mobile, analytics, etc. This helps them extend their services portfolio and also enhance their service quality. Utilities yield more power by giving their customers more capabilities and more visibility in terms of access to their usage data, helping them make better choices with respect to consumption trends, educating them through savings tips and motivating them to enroll in efficiency and conservation programs. By giving 360 degree view of services, the utilities are able to increase customer satisfaction and in turn a higher customer retention.
Customer orientation is the core of success in businesses today. While the utilities have started adopting new technologies, real impact will be seen as they start aligning their models with this customer orientation. The growing trend of customer centric approach will help them in a way that it will induce operational efficiency in their businesses, and, simultaneously the customers will own the accountability of their respective energy & water consumption. Thus, together the utilities as well as their customers will partner in creating an energy and water sustainable future.
Well, it’s just a wakeup call for all utilities across the globe & moving ahead utilities will need to continuously evolve so as to meet expectations and behavioral demand.