Customer Experience in Energy: How to become a Truly Customer-Centric Organization

The average customer’s expectation of customer service is based on their experience with the products and services they use frequently. Thanks to e-commerce companies offering same-day deliveries, telecom companies enabling payments at the tap of a button, and banks providing real-time chat support and smart-banking services on their phones, the expectations have already been set.  Energy companies cannot, therefore, afford to provide an experience that is not personalized, seamless, and instantaneous.

What constitutes a great customer experience, how can energy companies reach there, what are the challenges in front of them? We asked these questions to some of our speakers at the 2nd Customer Experience (CX) & Engagement in Energy Sector 2020.

Nina Schoeller, Program Manager Digital Transformation Retail, Innogy explains, “For Innogy, customer experience is based on reliability, accessibility and quality. While reliability and quality refer strongly to the way our customer service works and handles requests, accessibility not only means shortening waiting times but also having the right information available consistently for our customers on public websites, apps and in the self-service portal or with a chatbot without too much hassle.”

Utilities get in touch with their customer much lesser compared to other sectors. We can learn a lot from looking at other customer-centric industries when it comes to best-practice customer experience, e.g. from some players in the telco industry. Chatbots help customers to increase the speed of receiving the information needed. Through easy and reduced-to-the-needs apps, customer touchpoints get even more customer-centric. On the sales side, data-based use-cases help us only market products to customers that need them. For example, when living in a rented flat, the customer is likely not interested in a PV module on their roof. Using AI, we can not only personalize but also learn from our customer behavior and improve our journeys accordingly.”

Rosaria Cirillo, Author, H-CX Advisor & Happiness Change Catalyst at Wow Now identifies 3 main ways for the energy sector to put customers at its centre,

1.Truly understanding customer needs, goals and emotions, and their entire journey across the dynamic and complex energy ecosystem. 

2. Identifying, designing and delivering solutions to these needs that meaningful and life-enriching for customers,Customer Experience enabling and empowering their employees to make a difference in people’s life.

3. Relentlessly designing systems, policies, procedures, and processes from a customer’s perspective, considering the increasing expectations and leveraging technology innovation.

Organizations are considering employees as their brand champions and seeking to achieve better customer experience by creating better experiences for their employees.  According to Rosaria Cirillo, “Employees are the lifeblood of every organization. It’s through employees that organisations make choices, function and deliver the experience. Who and how you hire, your training, socialisation, rewards, values and ways of working, enablement and empowerment to make decisions and act as needed, are all critical elements of the employee experience which have a direct impact on customer experience. “

As a result of the increasing digitalization in the energy sector, companies now have huge amounts of data on consumption patterns, customer behaviour and requirements. Proper utilization of this data has tremendous potential to enhance the customer experience in the sector. Unlike in other areas in the energy sector, where the application of AI could be an expensive venture, investments in customer-facing AI is considered to be low-risk due to the maturity of the technologies available. AI applications are enabling billing enquiries, payments, new connections, as well as helping customers save money by optimizing their energy usage through smart-home systems.

Although they were initially lagging, utilities are making up lost ground by adjusting to the changing customer expectations through the deployment of information technology and the right skill-training, there are however challenges as well. Director and Customer Transformation Leader at PwC, Bart Brusselmans explains,

“PwC’s research shows that besides a lack of skills in the workforce, the main hurdles for utility companies to overcome in starting a transformation are mindset-related, rather than technical or business issues.

Improved CX is a necessity in the energy sector mainly because of 2 important trends that we see. First, changing customer expectations.  These expectations are set mainly outside the energy sector like in banking or telco. And secondly, by the rapid technological evolution. Applications that were complex and expensive a few years ago are now available for new entrants as well. 

Our own PwC research and experience in working with companies has shown an immediate impact between the focus on employee experience and an improved CX.   “front-office” staff in a multi-channel environment need multiple skills.  Providing them with the right training and the appropriate tools will benefit your customers as well. “

The virtual conference, CX IN THE ENERGY SECTOR: CUSTOMERS, CULTURE & COVID-19 will bring together six Customer Experience leaders from global energy companies to share best practices for becoming a customer-centric organisation and facing unprecedented challenges in these uncertain times.  Connect with us to join the discussion.