RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Our New Energy Consumer research found that small and medium businesses (SMB) are ready, willing and waiting for new customer experiences (CX).
  • Investing in a connected SMB CX will create a foundation to evolve the people, process and technology necessary to compete in the digital age.
  • Implementing an SMB digital transformation program could unlock significant cost savings for energy providers.
  • Energy providers need to shape new CX with hyper-personalization and digitally enabled engagement as fundamentals.


Despite their desire for more tailored value propositions, SMBs often feel they receive the same services as residential customer segments. However, Accenture’s New Energy Consumer study found that engaged SMBs offer significant value, and energy providers should activate the CX their SMB customers want and realize the resulting opportunities.

The forgotten segment?

The study’s findings reveal important insights about the current dynamics of SMB customer preferences and behaviors. And they illuminate how energy providers must think differently about digital and traditional channels for SMB customers—delivering the content, features and experiences these B2B buyers expect in their daily business lives just as they do as residential consumers.

59%

SMBs that said energy providers’ current products, services and support were either not tailored to their business needs or were the same as for residential customers.

42%

SMBs that see products and services personalized to their business needs and preferences as their prime satisfaction factor.

Shift to a digital experience

SMB customer journeys have become more complex, spanning multiple touchpoints. Leading energy providers are viewing digital as a way of delivering omnichannel, end-to-end customer experiences that seamlessly combine field resources, energy solutions distributors, sales, and energy management employees and contact centers.

To unleash trapped value, SMB energy personalization must be more sophisticated than simply adding more products or preferences. Leading providers are leveraging data and digital to enable connected personalization. With a 360-degree view of SMB customer preferences, energy usage history, location information and other contextual information, it becomes possible to anticipate needs and serve up actionable insights.

Among SMBs, active digital users are more likely to sign up for additional energy-related products and services if offered effortless, personalized digital customer service.

Create the connected experience

Energy providers can combine digital channels with digital engagement programs to deliver a new connected SMB energy experience. Innovative product and service opportunities include beyond-the-meter offerings such as automated energy management services, distributed energy resources such as solar and battery solutions, and installation and maintenance services. When it comes to SMBs, these new offerings will be key to success.

Four ways to take it forward

Accenture research and experience point to four ways leading energy providers could take full advantage of the always-on customer phenomenon—and boost returns on their CX investments with SMBs.

Take it to the top

Elevate the SMB CX topic to the executive suite, highlighting the value and return on these investments.

Turn insights into value

Deliver the most effective CX with connected insights, feedback mechanisms and data sharing to build trust among all parties.

Mind the engagement gap

Understand the CX moments that matter and design them to enable customer success, stimulate engagement, promote loyalty and differentiate the brand.

Orchestrate an ecosystem

Embrace an ecosystem mindset to consider consumers as extensions of their own businesses—and critical enablers of emerging business models.

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An average-size regulated energy provider could unlock as much as $10 million to $15 million net savings over a five-year SMB digital transformation program.

The moment of truth

It’s time for energy providers that appreciate the importance of CX to walk the talk in terms of investments and attention. If they don’t, SMB customers might switch to providers that offer the seamless interactions, multi-channel experiences and products and services they demand. Improving the SMB CX is a marathon, not a sprint. Energy providers need to stay focused and committed to reap and sustain the CX benefits over time.

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