How An Orchestrated Customer Journey can Differentiate Energy Providers in an Increasingly Competitive, Deregulated Market

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FEBRUARY 2020

By: Greg Weber

Millennials (those born after 1982) account for one-third of the adult population this year and will comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. They are digital natives, and their expectations for customer service are completely different than those of previous generations, as are their expectations for their energy providers.

When we combine these mega shifts in customer expectations and the rise of digitally driven improvements in CX with the massive changes in the public utility industry (including deregulation leading to more intense competition) we see exciting opportunities for providers to differentiate their offerings through advanced technologies.

A third important dynamic when it comes to Millennials mindsets is their commitment to the reduction of energy consumption, their interest in sustainable energy options (solar and wind for example), and their awareness of the impact of global climate change combined with a desire to make a difference through conservation.

What this growing generation wants and how Millennials behave is a major focus of the utilities industry, with intense transformations underway and a race to innovate in order to maintain customers and attract new ones, while also driving profitability through more efficient interactions, including customer service delivery.

The Brookings Institute conducted a study several years ago on this topic and found:

  • First, in contrast to previous generations, millennials are socially conscious: they shop and buy products and services from entities that prioritize social causes that align with theirs, including the environment.
  • Second, they distrust big companies: in one survey, 83 percent of millennials agreed with the statement that “there is too much power concentrated in the hands of a few big companies.”
  • Third, this generation is more favorable to government regulation: in another survey, most millennials disagree with the statement that “government regulation of business usually does more harm than good.”

At Eventus we’ve found that today’s customers want service that is “Friendly, Fast and Free”— the institute found that the Millennial customer wants “information, services and products that meet the criteria of the three ‘Cs’: cheap, convenient and cool.”

This landmark study also found that “Utilities who will thrive in the coming years are the ones who will find ways to understand and meet the needs and preferences of the millennial generation and especially the millennial customer. We already see signs of this. Utilities are well-placed to develop and utilize customer information, and the emergence of ‘data analytics’ as a hot topic is reflective of utilities trying to figure out how to access and use – or ‘personalize’ – customer information.”

Later this week in Dallas, I will be sharing a view into the next world of CX for utilities, where innovation leveraging software, data analytics, automation and experience in delivering great CX consistently and at scale can easily be combined with initiatives including mobile applications energy providers provide making it easier for their customers to understand the energy they are using and conserve, resulting in lower energy bills and greater satisfaction.

I will be presenting on the topic of “The Orchestrated Customer Experience: CX Transformation Delivered by a Modernized Contact Center Framework” to leaders in the utility industry at an event along with Alamo Cloud Solutions.

While contact center technology has matured, and while new approaches to improving customer experience (CX) are well underway, including in the utility industry, there is so much more we can do to drive super competitive CX.

By orchestrating great CX with a comprehensive and practical approach, energy providers can deliver productive, predictive and personalized experiences so efficiently that the costs associated with running traditional contact centers substantially decrease, turning omni-channel and automation into competitive and operational advantages.

Customers today expect to be served via an orchestrated, frictionless experience, on their terms, within the context of their digitally connected lives, delivering positive outcomes within seconds or minutes, redefining relationships and driving life-long loyalty.

Customers win, contact centers win, companies win – and importantly, Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) win.

As part of a ten-year transition into a more hyper-connected, mobile first world, too much complexity has been created resulting in much of the customer experience coordination being manually performed by the CSR. With an Orchestrated Customer Experience, CSRs can become human again, truly enabled by data and systems which make it not only possible but delightful to deliver productive, predictive and personalized experiences consistently and professionally.

Customer CX transitions, with a framework built around serving Millennial customers on their terms, using the channels of their choice, by moving from a set of independent interactions to becoming an engagement journey in an Orchestrated Customer Experience.

The biggest challenge faced by CX professionals today is the changing and increasingly high expectations faced by their frontline staff; Millennials, as the Brookings Institute study points out, expect instant solutions, 24/7 availability, digital and mobile access, flexibility and efficiency.

Regardless of what you sell, you’re selling an experience.

That’s more than building an app, great web usability or simpler billing and payment systems. The single view of the customer built by smart businesses is now portable and ubiquitous.

This applies to more than the Millennial generation. Digital natives are still people, and the generations that preceded them, including the Baby Boomers, are adopting new technologies and expecting very smart and intuitive customer service delivery, too.  It has always been the case that the latest generations are pathfinders who push product and service providers with rising expectations across the entire market.

Research by Oracle, an Eventus technology partner, revealed that “People no longer buy products. Increasingly, they buy experiences.”

This insight came from a survey of more than 7,000 consumers by Oracle, which also said “Your customer service isn’t just competing against your immediate sector rivals’ – you’re fighting for a share of wallet against the experiences people can have with other brands. They expect the same great experience in healthcare, for example, as they have had with Amazon or Starbucks.”

I’m looking forward to learning more by listening to the utility professionals attending this week’s conference what they are seeing, and to sharing with them what is not only possible – but practical – and available today in dramatically improving the experience of their customers, while making their contact center operations far more efficient and impactful, whether through advanced chatbots or more intuitive CSR tools and the combinations of technologies that lead to what we all want: productive, predictive and personalized experiences delivered through a modern CX framework.

 

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