SMUD’s Heatmap: Providing the Intel to Make Clean Energy Accessible for Low Income Customers If we genuinely want to reach the clean energy future, clean energy opportunities must become affordable and accessible for all utility customers, including those in low-income communities Nature and Magnitude of the Divide Making the switch to clean energy isn’t likely …
Last week I visited Amazon to place an order for dog treats. My bulldog, Hank, loves a particular brand. Aside from my local pet store chain, Amazon is the only other place that sells them.
Why don’t I just get in my car and go to the pet store when I run out, instead of ordering online at Amazon? The answer lies in the customer experience (CX) I receive when I do business with Amazon via their website or app. Amazon stands out because it allows me to:
- Get a larger container of treats for about the same price as a smaller container I would get from the store;
- Order dog treats and other items on a subscription basis so we never run out;
- Have confidence that my orders arrive on my front doorstep, rain or shine;
- Learn about new relevant products during the ordering process through Amazon’s recommendations; and
- Quickly resolve order issues.
As a consumer, I’m now desiring to have these types of experiences with all companies I give my business to, including my utility. And I’m not the only one.
Blake Morgan, a writer for Forbes, says customer-centricity is one of the biggest, competitive advantages a company can have. “Instead of competing on price, more than two-thirds of companies now compete mostly on the base of customer experience,” she wrote in the article, “The 10 Most Customer-Obsessed Companies Of 2019.”
The past election was a close race between president, Donald Trump and his contender, Joe Biden. Red vs. Blue, Us vs. Them. But in the end, Biden won the election. With the change in president, there is a natural resistance to new thinking. However, that resistance shouldn’t carry over to advancing our clean energy goals at the federal level. Regardless of political party, clean energy is our future.
Until recently, the traditional regulated #utility model for simultaneously collecting #revenue and keeping customers happy had been steady since the birth of the #grid. At the most basic level, a utility customer would use a particular amount of a commodity—#electricity, #gas, #water, and/or #wastewater services, receive a monthly bill based on usage and submit a payment. As long as the bill was correct, call center agents were available when it wasn’t, and service was uninterrupted, utilities didn’t have to fret over revenue or customers.
It would be impossible to count the ways that 2020 defied expectations. However, one lesson learned during this unprecedented year should not come as a surprise: customer engagement was more important than ever.
Questline deploys millions of content marketing messages each year on behalf of energy utilities. This gives us unique insight into the topics that customers care about. Let’s look back at the popular content from this most unexpected year, to see what was on utility customers’ minds in 2020.
What is the value of a connected customer? During the initial months of the pandemic, Questline deployed more than 72 million COVID-19-related communications [link: https://www.questline.com/blog/covid-19-transformed-email-communications/ ] on behalf of energy utilities from across the U.S. The performance metrics from those sends revealed a lot about the successes they had in reaching #customers during a #crisis and delivering resources and program information quickly, effectively and economically.
Customer centricity is critical to the transformation game but offering smooth self-service experience and pleasant interactions with the call center is no longer enough. To persevere when a growing number of competitors are fighting for utility customers, utility companies must go beyond offering reliable and safe electricity, natural gas, drinking water and wastewater services to meet other customer needs.
In April 2018, I wrote an article for Energy Central called, The Day a Man Named Stan Called Me Tiffany: The Importance of Personalization. I framed the topic with a humorous experience I had at a New York City restaurant that I frequented. The waiter, his name is “Stan”, called me “Tiffany” and since that isn’t my name, I explained how his mistake lowered my tolerance for the average food served in this establishment, specifically the egg rolls. They had an aftertaste that I didn’t really notice until he called me by the wrong name.