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Why Australian utilities need to defend, delight and disrupt

Accenture and The Australian Financial Review found recommendations necessary for the Australian electricity sector needs to ensure they continue to evolve and accelerate.

Overview

The Australian electricity sector is approaching a pivotal point in its evolution. Every part of the value chain is experiencing significant change with generators, retailers and distributors alike, only too aware of the emergence of the fundamental and irreversible shifts with digital disruption to the utilities sector. But, for some, this is also prompting a reinvention that will forge the way to future prosperity in an environment where consumers can and will choose to move completely off the grid and take more control of their energy choices.

In collaboration with The Australian Financial Review, Accenture has written a report which proposes a series of customer service recommendations the Australian electricity sector can choose to embrace to ensure they continue to evolve and accelerate.

This Australian electricity report outlines a way forward for energy companies. The report acknowledges energy providers need to understand that customers are irrational and that many consumers have a preference to interact through non-traditional channels. Energy companies should look to making better use of digital, personalisation and user-centered design. Visit the future of Australian industries microsite to view the report and infographic and to learn more about Accenture’s recommendations for the electricity sector in Australia.

Background

In the third Accenture report of our 2014 series written with The Australian Financial Review, we focus on the future of the electricity industry in Australia. This sector is approaching a pivotal point in its evolution. Every part of the value chain is experiencing significant change and all parties - generators, retailers and distributors alike - are only too aware of the emergence of the fundamental and irreversible shifts which are disrupting the sector. But, for some, this is also prompting a reinvention that will forge the way to future prosperity in an environment where consumers can and will choose to move completely off the grid and take more control of their energy choices. This report offers industry insights and proposes a series of recommendations for the Australian electricity sector.

Analysis

Fairfax Business Intelligence surveyed 699 Australians in 2014 about their satisfaction with the customer service provided by a range of sectors. The survey found energy utilities ranked worst, similar to the telecommunications sector. The sobering evidence was that only nine per cent of respondents ranked energy companies either first or second when it came to delivering ‘excellent’ customer service. It has been a long journey back to re-building the trust of energy consumers. In Australia, after many years of poor performance, trust in utilities companies is on the rise.

Recommendations

This electricity report provides case studies offering utilities industry insights. Also, the report outlines a series of recommendations that the Australian electricity sector can choose to embrace to ensure they continue to evolve and accelerate:
  1. Articulate a compelling value proposition for the industry.

  2. Understand digital is disrupting the value proposition.

  3. Stability and growth are not mutually exclusive.

  4. Commercialise innovations.

  5. Be prepared for industry-wide disruption.

Accenture’s recommendations for how Australian electricity companies can defend, delight and disrupt:

  1. Understand that customers have different needs

  2. Manage threats through reinvention, convergence and innovation

  3. Experiment fast and be prepared to fail

  4. Show the customer you’re on their side

  5. Build a compelling industry brand

  6. Find the right balance of supply, affordability and sustainability

  7. Seek out new partnerships

  8. Look to new innovations

  9. Understand shareholder needs