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New Energy Consumer Handbook

A new, more dynamic energy marketplace continues to take shape, driven by shifting consumer preferences and accelerating market disruptions.

Overview

A new, more dynamic energy marketplace continues to take shape, driven by shifting consumer preferences and accelerating market disruptions.

The changes under way present a series of opportunities and challenges that require providers to relentlessly focus on establishing simplified organizations that are more agile and change capable. Within this environment, providers require a range of new core competencies that will create a foundation for success regardless of how the marketplace evolves.

Building on Accenture's New Energy Consumer research program, The New Energy Consumer Handbook is a comprehensive guide to the changes occurring in the utilities industry and strategies for long-term success.

Our third edition of The New Energy Consumer Handbook draws upon four consecutive years of end-consumer research, analysis of consumer and technology trends, insights from leading energy providers, cross-industry experience and Accenture’s knowledge of managing utility customer operations.

Accenture’s four years of global research surveys are based on questionnaire-led interviews with end consumers. In total, across four years of research, more than 40,000 consumers have been surveyed worldwide. In 2013, more than 2,000 small and medium businesses (SMBs) were surveyed in addition to residential consumers. The selected countries represent a range of regulated and deregulated markets.

The handbook is designed to offer energy providers fresh ideas and actionable insights that help to frame the journey ahead and inspire dynamic new approaches to succeed in the evolving energy marketplace.

 

Download PDFSee the report. [PDF, 10.3MB]

Key Findings

Around the world, utilities are facing fundamental changes. Energy consumers’ expectations are increasing, technological advances are creating exponential step-change, and regulatory and market forces are fueling complex, sometimes contradictory, priorities for providers.

In short, marketplaces are transforming and creating new strategic challenges and operational pressures that cannot be ignored. Some key topics we highlight in the handbook include:

  • Forces shaping the evolving energy marketplace. Discussion of the macro trends creating opportunities and challenges in the energy ecosystem.

  • The energy marketplace currents of change. Analysis of disruptive trends within the industry and strategic business models for the consumer-facing utility.

  • Structuring for success: An enterprise view of customer operations.Discussion of the shifting nature of the energy experience and the need for providers to break down operational silos to become more consumer-centric.

  • Core competencies of the next-generation energy providers. An exploration of the core competencies that will form the foundation for success in the evolving energy marketplace.

  • Special report: Small and medium businesses: The untapped energy consumer. Drawing on Accenture’s global survey of small and medium businesses, the report explores the opportunities for engaging the “neglected middle.”

  •  Special report: Retail revisited: New energy market strategies. Analysis of competitive energy markets focusing on trends and leading strategies.

Analysis

Residential
Accenture’s New Energy Consumer research shows that less than one-quarter of consumers trust their utility to inform them of actions they can take to optimize energy consumption—a decrease of nine percentage points from 2012. This is the lowest level of trust since the multi-year global research program was launched four years ago. In addition, the report found that customer satisfaction globally has decreased over the past year.

Meanwhile, across both regulated and competitive energy markets, nearly three-quarters of consumers are ready to turn to alternative providers for energy and energy-related products and services.

Despite the fact that many utilities have increased spending on consumer-centric programs, such as Web and mobile self-service, this has not yet translated directly into improved trust or satisfaction. Accenture’s research shows that there is a growing gap between customer expectations and the energy experience they receive from their providers today.

The research shows that delivering the basics of the customer experience is key to building consumer trust. The vast majority of consumers surveyed said that consistently getting the bill correct (92 percent), receiving reliable energy delivery (91 percent) and getting clear and easy-to-understand pricing information (91 percent) are the factors that matter most in building their trust with energy providers.

Responses from survey participants indicate that utilities have several opportunities to better engage with their customers, including:

  • Extending the mobile experience.

  • Tackling consumer costs.

  • Acting as an energy advisor.

  • Delivering a smarter experience.

Small and medium-size businesses
As many small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) struggle to keep pace with sluggish consumer spending and rising operating costs, including energy bills, utilities have an opportunity to help fuel growth within this important sector. According to The New Energy Consumer Handbook, utilities can help SMBs reduce energy costs and create new ways to attract consumers by providing advice and tailoring products and services to help these companies manage energy usage, reduce business complexity and appeal to “green-minded” consumers.

In a survey conducted across nine countries, including a range of competitive and non-competitive energy markets, Accenture explored the energy needs and preferences of 2,200 SMBs in nine countries and found that most are hungry for information and solutions to help them manage their energy costs. Only 35 percent of the respondents believe that the products, services and support currently offered by their utilities are specific to their business needs.

The research identified three areas where providers could better support SMBs while also generating much-needed new revenue streams for themselves:

  • Helping SMBs boost the bottom line.

  • Tailoring products and services and aligning with SMBs’ business cycle.

  • Helping SMBs attract customers.

Podcast

The Utilities Podcast Series provides industry executives with a variety of compelling insights and observations on a range of relevant, current topics.

Listen to an interview with Michael Dary, Accenture Energy Consumer Services offering lead, and Simon Vardy, Accenture Energy Consumer Services senior manager focusing on retail strategy in Asia Pacific.

Listen to an interview with Michael Dary, Accenture Energy Consumer Services offering lead, and Timothy Porter, managing director, Accenture Energy Consumer Services on the topic of retail redefined in North America.

Listen to an interview with Accenture’s Jason Warnke and Angela Gordon with insights on how social media is impacting customer service in the utilities industry.

Industry & topics highlighted

Utilities