The Intelligent Engagement
According to an industry expert, “Businesses that are based on customers’ engagement are focused on value creation and thus ensure customer retention.” Across the world, an ongoing revolution is taking hold of the companies that provide our electricity, water and gas. The utility companies have always worked on the premise of charging customers for the services they have already used. There have been inaccuracies in billing and collection processes, as a result, customers have been facing unexpected costs and surprise charges when their bills came through – and with the energy already spent, there was nothing those customers could do about it. The result: dissatisfied and unhappy customers.
With the advent of technology, there has been a manifold increase in the customers’ awareness and knowledge levels. Customers are now digitally-savvy, demand additional services, and seek a different relationship with their suppliers.
Industry trends predict that by 2018, 20% of energy consumers will purchase new energy-related products and services from utilities and their affiliates, opening up new revenue streams. In the past, consumers were never a primary strategic focus for utilities. There wasn’t much attention paid to consumer engagement. But as competition in utility industry increased, and more direct consumer interaction channels have emerged, utilities must reinvent themselves to align with the consumers’ digital conduct and expectations. Utilities should take the opportunity that value-added services offer, as a natural extension of their business, to prove to their customers that they have indeed upped their customer services and experience game. For this, utilities must adopt a customer-centric business model to provide value added services and enhanced experiences that truly address the customer’s problems and deliver beyond expectations.
In a world full of distractions, engaging customers beyond the typical purchasing routine is vital for operational as well as financial success of utilities. Therefore, they have to embrace the wave of digital technologies and capabilities focused on customer experience and engagement in addition to transactional systems. As per the industry predictions, Cloud based SaaS solutions are here to stay and change the face of utility services like never before. If done right, customer-focused digital strategy which will enable utilities to ensure customer loyalty while also driving new revenue channels.
Today, the consumers crave unparalleled engagement from their service providers. They want customized services, self-service capabilities, personalized programs and advices, and higher savings on energy and water bills. Thus, utilities can leverage analytics to gain insights to understand and meet their customers’ needs. It helps bridge the gap between providing a service to solving real challenges around customers’ behavioral and usage trends. Understanding and accurately predicting your customer’s requirement and usage pattern gives you an excellent opportunity to provide services that will satisfy and keep them happy. And thus will ensure their absolute loyalty. Customer loyalty implies higher customer retention which has a direct impact on revenue stream and profitability.
Customer engagement isn’t a new concept. It’s all about empowerment of our customers, by giving them the reigns to monitor, manage, compare, plan and budget their energy, water and gas usage on a regular basis along with helping them with tips on improving their usage efficiency. Empowered customers mean that they have a sense of association with their utilities, they are confident that they are dealing with service providers on their own terms, that they are recognized, are being listened to, they are getting improved experiences every time they interact with their utilities and their preferences are being respected. This allows utilities to witness the real value of customer engagement. Ultimately they will feel happier about choosing their service providers. By making it effortless for the customers and delivering value with every interaction, utilities can will help and serve them better.
With these changes in place, a clear paradigm shift is occurring in the world of utilities. The industry is shifting away from leaving customers dreading their next bill, unable to change what has happened; moving towards embracing a future where the customer knows how much they need, how much they’re paying, and how much power they really have. These problems are being tackled head on by the utilities industry in a very unusual way – with a complete overhaul of the way utilities interact and engage with their customers. Utilities have changed the way they perceive their customers and continue to transform their approach to improve customer experience.