Utilities, retail energy providers, distributed energy providers, technology companies: on the surface, they are very different, with unique business models, resources, and areas of expertise. But ultimately their business is to enable customers to conveniently and economically carry out their daily tasks—whether it is washing their family’s clothes or moving goods through a warehouse—without interruption and inconvenience. But things are changing. Like it or not, these customers have a quickly expanding universe of energy market and technology options that allow them to go beyond the typical energy supplier. Attracting and retaining customers with so many alternatives will depend on how good you are at the next level of customer engagement.
The energy provider of the future
Imagine a world where the immense sets of data about markets, technology, use, and the customers themselves can be packaged into smart energy product and service options. Armed with these options, the energy provider can offer products and services that range from efficient appliances and equipment, to energy management systems, and even financing for solar PV or storage, as well as provide the customer with a holistic, strategic understanding of their energy use. This is the energy provider of the future. All of these elements exist today, but not in one place, or even by one type of company. What makes this company different from today’s energy provider? Customer engagement. The opportunity—and possibly the way to thrive in an increasingly competitive energy market—is to become the energy provider of the future.
In the current landscape, communication with customers tends to be very one way and focused on the immediate needs of the service provider: retailers focus on prices, enrollment, and retention; utilities focus on outage management and regulatory compliance; and distributed energy providers focus on sales. They are all communicating to their customers, but not engaging with them.
Customer engagement is two-way communication, where the energy provider understands what the customer wants and needs, and vice versa. The truth is that customers are becoming more and more aware of the choices they have when it comes to energy, but they are navigating these waters mostly by themselves. Going beyond bill inserts, call centers, and blast emails and engaging them with products and services that help them navigate the ocean of choices, energy providers can build trust and cement long term customer partnerships. In turn, customer engagement is essential for energy providers to key in on effective and efficient solutions and form strategies about the services they offer.
While this level of engagement used to require expensive outreach, the increasing deployment of smart meters, energy management widgets, and smart homes allows energy providers to efficiently harness multiple streams of data to build granular customer-level insights. This, in turn, enables creative and customized solutions whether the customer is a residential, a small business, or a giant conglomerate with multiple campuses and operations. Now that’s engagement.
Becoming the energy provider of the future requires innovation, persistence, and a new way of viewing one’s customers. The question that remains is: Who is going to step up?
Join me at the Energy Executive Forum, where we will bring together experts with the insights and knowledge to help you become the energy provider of the future. Register now and take the next step in creating the energy future.
Vice President, Competitive Markets
DNV GL Energy
John Landry is organizing and leading the panel “Energy Choices: The Customer-Focus Imperative” at the 2018 DNV GL Energy Executive Forum on May 16th. Register today to meet John at the Forum to continue the discussion.