By Dominique de Wit
Our previous blog discussed how customers increasingly look to their utility as an energy advisor, and how utilities can meet these needs by providing clear rate and cost analytics via personalized bill impact statements.
The channels utilities rely on to present customers this rate and cost information is of growing importance. With the burgeoning e-commerce ecosystem, the vast majority of utility customers have access to a wide variety of mobile applications and web-based portals, and are also accustomed to using these digital platforms. The implication of this for utilities is that utilities need to think proactively about developing digital platforms that provide both cost-savings and rate analysis as well as customer service.
Research shows that customers understand impacts in dollars and cents rather than kilowatt hour scenarios. Therefore, utilities need to ensure that they integrate rate and cost analytics on digital platforms to ensure that customers can evaluate the financial impact of their usage decisions.
In particular, utilities can add rate and cost analytics to CRM platforms and energy portals to:
- Serve key account managers with personalized and scenario-based usage, rate, bill and cost analyses for large customers across their complex account hierarchies
- Provide energy scenario tools showing customer bill impacts with rate changes
- Send customers proactive notifications with energy cost saving recommendations
- Enable customers to choose their desired rate via an energy portal.
Leading utilities are deploying such tools. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy programs, relies on GridX CSR rate analysis tools with personalized and scenario-based usage, and ad hoc rate analyses in real time to effectively answer questions about rates, pricing, bills and costs. These tools enable CSRs to advise customers in thousands of scenarios, and the tools have helped build customer trust through proactive customer engagement and high-quality analyses.
In short, the utility customer service model is undergoing a substantial change. As utilities increase their reliance on digital platforms to reach and serve customers, the integration of rate and cost analytics as well as self-serve tools will be critical to enhancing the customer experience.