The constant evolution of technology and customer expectations impacts every industry across the board, including utility providers. Whether your company operates in a regulated market or competes against other providers for business, you must both understand and meet your customers’ evolving expectations for the solutions and services you provide, or risk being left behind.
Some of the changes that are impacting both customers and providers include:
Customers Are Demanding More
Innovations in retail, social, and service-based digital experiences are influencing customer expectations for every type of B2C interaction. The last great experience a customer has, be it shopping online or ordering fast food, for example, sets the expectation for their next experience, which may be activating utility service or dealing with a power outage. Today’s customers are constantly connected and more in tune than ever with where their money is going and the day-to-day value provided by the companies with which they interact.
An Abundance of Customer Data
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While customer expectations are increasing, utility companies’ access to customer data has also grown. Instead of collecting data through monthly meter reads, providers now have access to smart meter data, which provides thousands of data points for each household every month. Utility providers are striving to combine this flood of usage data with the information collected through their websites, customer accounts, call centers, in-person interactions, and social channels, and then use that data to improve the customer experience.
Innovations Are Changing the Norms
Advances in energy technology are changing the landscape of utility services. Solar energy, battery technology, and other green technologies are becoming cheaper, more efficient, and more mainstream. Utility companies are racing to provide the solutions their customers want, and incorporate those solutions into their existing organizations.
New Competition for Engagement
New technology is also bringing new competition for customer engagement in the utility arena. Vendors like Nest and Amazon are introducing smart devices (thermostats, speakers, light bulbs) into customers’ homes and are joining the utility conversation by providing energy-saving tips and other resources.
With some saying that renewable energy could “effectively be free” by 2030, it is clear that major shifts are happening in the energy and utility industries. In the midst of all of these changes in available technology and customer expectations, utility providers need to keep up or risk commoditization or being edged out of the market.
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