Twenty percent more likely to stay with their energy provider. Thirty-seven percent more likely to recommend. And twenty-two percent more satisfied. Those findings describe approximately twenty percent of all residential energy consumers who have the highest customer experience (CX) ratings in competitive retail markets. The impact of great experiences is similar in non-competitive markets.
With these numbers in mind, how can energy providers improve CX through a connected energy experience? Improving CX isn’t a new idea for organizations; in fact, most energy providers have made significant investments in this area. And yet, many of those efforts have not addressed the key sources of customer frustrations or cracked wide the opportunity to engage beyond traditional services.
To capture new value, our experience suggests embracing a more focused approach to CX, engagement and retention. In other words, don’t try to be all things to all customers. Instead, place strategic bets on the proper actions for the appropriate consumers, and activate a connected energy experience that not only meets their expectations but also exceeds their demands by a significant margin.
To deliver more satisfying, effortless and personalized CX, consider three transformational—and relatively untapped—levers.
Lever 1: Use AI to enable intelligent service
Artificial intelligence (AI) can help deliver a truly integrated customer service experience across digital and physical interactions. AI makes it possible to maintain focus on improving customer satisfaction while reducing operational cost via digital shift.
Consumers themselves increasingly regard AI technologies as valuable tools for getting answers, obtaining support and completing transactions more conveniently. Accenture’s 2018 New Energy Consumer research found that half of consumers no longer care whether they’re interacting with humans or AI-enabled technologies. Eighty percent of energy consumers are ready to use a digital agent if it is easy to use, highly available and fast at resolution. And nearly three-quarters are open to having AI tools monitor and adjust energy in their home.
As consumers increasingly accept AI, they use it to differentiate CX with relevant, contextualized digital support. It’s an ideal tool to help eliminate channel noise, improve service consistency, simplify processes and enable agents to focus on more strategic interactions.
Lever 2: Personalize with hyper-relevance
So far, energy providers’ personalization initiatives have centered around their deep understanding of customers’ usage behaviors, previous service transaction patterns and account attributes. While that approach has enabled providers to meet consumers’ expectations, they’ve rarely surpassed them. Traditional personalization won’t be enough to enable a compelling beyond-the-meter energy experience, either.
The battle for relevance and authenticity is really a fight for your brand’s prime purpose: to provide a CX that goes beyond the commodity. There are a variety of tools and techniques to execute a hyper-relevant experience and build trust. For example, proactive alerts and auto adjustments of in-home technologies can take things off consumers’ “thinking list.” Other possibilities include curated subscription services and new connected energy products and services. The options are vast—and so is the potential return on your hyper-relevant personalization investments.
Lever 3: Target for value, target for growth
This lever points in two directions: targeting for value and targeting for growth. Targeting for value is about identifying value in your current business model while pivoting for the future. Targeting for growth is about identifying and selecting new value and business models wisely. It includes recalibrating your investments based on a better understanding of whether a new customer opportunity represents a disruption worth pursuing.
To be successful in the new energy ecosystem, start looking at value more broadly. Re-examine your products and services through a new lens. While specific customer plays vary by market, the path forward hinges upon providing an experience that is the culmination of connected energy products and services.