These four steps will position any company to begin the customer experience transformation successfully:
Step 1: Understand the customer. Without an understanding of the customer, the experience is irrelevant. In both B2C and B2B environments, customers have different needs, motivations, expectations and behaviors. Energy providers must accommodate the different ways that customers will experience the brand. Accenture Strategy research shows that 87% of consumers believe it is important for companies to personalize experiences without compromising trust.4
Step 2: Reveal why customers engage. Customer journeys represent intent. Historically, customer journeys in utilities have involved learning, moving, paying, managing accounts and consumption, attempting to save money, restoring power and getting help on issues. These journeys apply to competitive energy retailers as well. However, their customers also shop, join and even switch providers, all of which are starting to propagate into regulated utilities as they pursue growth via non-commodity offerings. As disruptive technologies emerge (e.g. distributed generation), new journeys will arise. The key is to design journeys that enable customer success, stimulate engagement, promote loyalty and differentiate the brand.
Step 3: Define where customers will engage. Many energy providers have employed a channel strategy intended to drive a mass shift to digital. This can lead to digital disappointment.5 As interaction channels proliferate, it is imperative for companies to make deliberate channel decisions that align to customer needs and journeys. There are additional considerations. First, disruptive technologies must be evaluated. For example, with over 50% of all searches being voice searches by 20206 , digital assistants must be evaluated. Secondly, “backstage” capabilities that enable “frontstage” customer interactions are critical. For example, quality management and agent learning practices in the contact center are key enablers of a positive agent interaction despite being invisible to customers. Lastly, as partner ecosystems grow, it is increasingly important to enable 3rd parties to successfully deliver the intended customer experience.7
Step 4: Establish capabilities that enable the intended experience. At this point, energy providers have established a clear picture of who their customers are, why they engage and where they experience the brand. With this foundation, decisions pertaining to topics such as technology, policies, talent strategy, culture and cross-organizational operating models can be made. Energy providers should start with the customer versus the shiny object. The implications and magnitude of “putting customers at the center” become increasingly clear.
The transformation is underway. For instance, at a North American utility with top quartile performance in managing bad-debt, executives are evaluating the impact of its tight credit policy on customer relationships, front office costs and advocacy. As part of its digital transformation, a leading competitive energy retailer is re-organizing around customer journeys in order to break down channel-based siloes and to foster collaboration. Customer experience transformation requires organizations to make decisions based not only on business and shareholder value, but also on value created for customers and communities.
1 Accenture, Digitally Enabled Grid research, 2017
2 GTM Research, Energy Blockchain Startups Raised $324 Million in the Last Year, 2018
3 Accenture, New Energy Consumer: Switch the Switchers, 2017
4 Accenture Strategy, Global Consumer Pulse Research, 2017
5 Accenture, New Energy Consumer: Totally Digital? Maybe Not, 2017
6 Campaign, "The future of search is voice and personal assistants," 2016
7 Accenture, New Energy Consumer: Partner or Perish, 2017