Key Accounts Are Hard! Is there an Easy button for that?

October 16, 2020

We all know why they are called Key Accounts – their numbers are small, but they are the biggest users of utility services and definitely generate the most revenues.  Utilities wisely dedicate Key Account Managers to service these accounts and endeavor to provide the high touch support these accounts demand.

Over roughly the last decade, however, strong forces have created new challenges that Key Account Management teams are struggling to meet.  These forces include Smart Meter and Smart Grid deployments, massive cost reductions in behind-the-meter distributed energy resources (DER), and sustainability and climate impact as corporate objectives (at both utilities and their Key Accounts).

These forces are all combining to drive new utility rates, tariffs, programs and business models.  Even at utilities that are not feeling these specific forces, the pace of rate case filings and price changes has been increasing over this same time period.  In sum, this means that Key Account Managers are being asked to provide rate, cost and bill analysis that is much more complex than any time before. 

With interval data available, Key Accounts have a much more transparent view of how they are using utility services and, consequently, demanding that their utilities provide more granular and customized analysis about the options available to them.  They also expect utilities to use whatever data is available and modern tools to help them budget for both actual events (price changes, rate case proposals) and hypothetical events (opening a new facility, adding a new shift).

For Key Account Managers, unfortunately, the tool chest is often quite bare.  To answer these complicated questions in a timely manner is often out of the question. And, to perform the analysis at all requires gathering data from multiple systems, making very generic assumptions resulting in the output being a “ballpark” result that the Key Account may or may not value.

Luckily, these problems are not unsolvable.  Modern, big data and cloud technology can streamline and simplify these data streams and processes.  Utilizing an Enterprise Rating Engine, a Key Account Management solution provides Key Account Managers with always-on answers coming from customers’ most recent data.  Users can access a dashboard for each of their Key Accounts that provides rich information including rate and bill comparisons, usage details down to the interval level, alerts in the event spend or usage have gone beyond pre-set thresholds, and historical billing details.  Further, this information is provided across the complete account hierarchy.

Beyond a static set of data and KPIs, Key Account Managers can work with customers in real-time to create very complex scenarios for cost and rate analysis.  These scenarios include what-if rates, what-if programs, and what-if loads and load shapes – and combinations of all these.  After configuring the scenario with the client, the Key Account Management tool creates answers in real-time.

Indeed, Key Accounts are hard to manage.  The emerging requirements to provide complex data and analysis to these customers are not making the job any easier.  With robust Key Account Management tools, however, Key Account Managers may actually have something that functions very much like an Easy button.