All businesses strive to be customer-centric. But faced with mounting consumer expectations, disruptive technologies, and new competition at every turn, providing a satisfying customer experience is increasingly difficult to achieve.

The game is changing, and utility providers that don’t adapt risk being left behind. We break down how you can rise to meet your growing customer expectations below.

Why is there a Greater Focus on Customers Today?

Disruptive businesses of every variety have transformed consumer expectations. Now, a nimble startup capable of finding the cracks in an established system can wiggle through and reach consumers through mobile apps or digital technology. Even public utilities that once had consolidated control over their regions are feeling outside forces vying for their market share.

In a recent study conducted by Deloitte, 46% of utility leaders in the power sector cited the influx of solar energy as a major disrupter to their business and 37% and 35% pointed their fingers at new players in the utility game and a general shift in consumer behavior, respectively. As wind, solar, smart car, smart city, etc. initiatives gain consumer attention, bright-eyed disrupters are marching in droves to capitalize on these new innovations, quite literally flipping the switch on home energy management. This consumer-driven market is leaving utility leaders racking their brains asking…

What Do Customers Really Want?

44% of utility executives say their biggest challenge is figuring out what their customers want. But the answer to the proverbial million-dollar question above is already right there in front of them – they just have to listen. Working to gain a thorough understanding of their customers’ wants, needs, and challenges (plus all of the little details in between) is a process. It takes careful interactions between agents and customers, scouring hundreds of online reviews for trends, and, above all, a commitment to using this insight and actually doing something about it.

For one, when interacting with businesses, customers crave transparency and immediacy. With this in mind, New York City utility provider, Consolidated Edison, responds to 87% of their Facebook and Twitter inquiries in 30 minutes or less! In the age of immediate gratification, if businesses aren’t providing their customers with hyper-responsive interactions, their silence is deafening.

From your interactions with customers, it will likely come as no surprise that 56% of consumers say they value ease of use above all else. Whether it’s paying a bill, checking on a power restoration time, or speaking with agents, quick and painless processes aren’t just a nice to have – they’re an expectation.

Inefficiencies aren’t the only thing that customers lose patience over. Today more than ever, people care about the origin of their power and they want their utility provider to show they care, too. In fact, 61% of consumers stated they would like to see their utility provider invest in better energy efficiency and 70% agree that they would like to see energy become cleaner.

How Do Successful Utility Providers Meet Customer Expectations?

Knowing what customers want is one thing, but there needs to be a formal system in place to ensure this feedback is actually addressed. Utility providers have access to thousands of data points for each customer. This data should be used to deliver offerings, suggestions, or marketing tailored directly for an individual customer. Not only does this help with customer retention, but through this tactic providers can discover even more about their customers’ preferences.

We mentioned the growing consumer interest in green energy. To showcase their commitment to energy efficiency, utility providers can start small by marketing green service offerings. Outside of investing in the big players like wind and solar, they can simply help their customers take a more conscious role in their energy consumption. By delivering tools and alerts for customers to monitor their energy usage in real-time, providers empower them to make greener choices while simultaneously saving money on their energy bill.

Customers are exposed to sleek and modern platforms every day and consequently their patience has thinned for outdated and inefficient systems. Utility providers that present their customers with the digital communication channels they crave, simplified bill payment options, real-time data on their usage, and the like add extra value to their services that could make or break the customer’s experience.

Meet Customers Where They’re At

Today’s consumer-driven market is heavily influenced by two things – options and opinions. Before making a purchase, customers are scouring the depths of the internet for the best bang for their buck. If they’re unsure, they read through dozens of reviews from other customers. If a product has too many bad reviews, they move on – there are plenty of other options to choose from. How do you ensure your business lives up to growing customer expectations? It starts with the people on your team.

Here at Refine Search, we’ll help connect your business with the executive talent it needs to provide top-notch customer service and impactful solutions designed to ride the wave of customer evolution. In fact, we recently connected one of our utilities clients with their new Vice President of Customer Care!

Innovation starts with your people – we know just where to find the game-changers. Reach out to Refine Search today!

 

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