Redefine customer experiences
For an industry seen as under performing in digital, the energy sector functions on data through use of analytics. However the analytics collected have not been used to provide a better understanding of customer experience in the sector. It’s time for Australian energy retailers to invest in their capabilities to significantly boost the experience of individual customers.
Energy retailers need to improve their methodologies in interacting with their customers. Currently most of the interactions that customers have with their providers have been negative. Payments are one of the main customer interaction points, accounting for half of all energy retailer communications and causing a significant proportion of complaints. This is one of the biggest pitfalls in the industry, the retailers see customer interactions as a negative experience. Instead they need to foster customers by having value-add interactions to gradually build trust.
Source: Ernst & Young’s Research
Energy retailers can do this by:
- Proactively anticipating the needs of the customer
- Providing a differentiated customer service based on value
- Using consumption data to inform quality interactions with the customer
- Using digital channels to collaborate with customers to solve problems and create new offerings
- Championing self-service by giving customers remote access to consumption data
- Measuring where digital interactions create differentiated value.
This measure will involve energy retailers to rethink the way they use and collect internal and external customer data. P&U’s need to start thinking about their social media presence as well as 69% of Australians are using a social media platform. Being active on social media could help them foster positive interaction with their customers.
Main Focus Areas for Energy Retailers
Prevent ‘bill shock’ and make payments a positive experience
A recent report conducted by EY suggests that ‘Bill Shock’ is a key area of concern for energy consumers. 7 out of 10 customers said that they were often worried about their electricity bills and whether they would be able to pay them. More than 1% said that the electricity bill is more of an everyday concern and its a main cause of stress.
Going digital could be the solution to that problem, providing flexible and transparent billing systems could help reduce the stress that is associated with the electricity bill.
The next step, which has already been implemented in the market is to offer customers innovative payment solutions, auto-top up payments, flexi-payments, online management and alerts when their top up is running low. This gives the consumers more control over their bills.
All these services have the potential to become positive interactions. They help the customer, whilst managing debt for the retailers, building stronger customer connections and offering opportunities to gather valuable data about customer preferences and priorities.
Helping customers manage energy use
EY’s research found that nearly 1 in 3 Australians have missed a payment in the past 12 months. With more than 1 in 10 missing three or more payments. ‘Unable to afford payment’ was what 60% of the subjects that missed payments reported.
A good way to foster positive interaction with these customers is to help them better manage their energy consumption.
A big part of that could go back to digital transformation where, consumers can monitor usage by appliances and remotely control these appliances with the use of their smartphone.
Learn digital strategies to stand out from your competitors to better foster positive customer interactions at the Competition & Customer Experience in Energy Conference, 13th & 14th November 2018, Melbourne.