Once, customer service in Energy – from outage reporting to resolving bill disputes to moving homes - was all but synonymous with call centers. No more!
New retailers in competitive energy markets chose human-centric design and adopted a 'Digital First' model for customer service, powered by AI and Chat bots. The Utilities industry came to appreciate how this can swing the ‘cost to serve’ dynamics in their favor. Even in fully regulated markets such as some states in the US where most Energy providers deal with captive customers - a growing demand was felt to provide Digital as a compelling alternative to a new generation of customers for whom digital had arrived as a way of life, enveloping many aspects of their personal lives.
Today, almost all Energy providers have started their journey towards digitalization of customer service. Yet despite these investments, Energy providers have not seen the scale of channel shift experienced by other industries like Retail and Banking. As we witness the unfolding events of 2020 including the Covid pandemic and the extreme Volatility in the oil prices, the Energy ecosystem is being wrenched from business as usual practices in many areas. Could this be the pivot for an accelerated channel shift towards digital?
Five Areas to Focus
1. Match Levels of Customer Adoption
Customers have dramatically ramped up usage of digital in dramatic ways in everything from remote working, remote shopping, and even digital aided home fitness programmes and tele-medicine.
Organizations must accelerate their shift to digitalization to catch up to how customers clearly want to engage. Already, in markets like UK, many Energy Retailers have already started seeing an increased adoption of digital by their customers during the Covid 19 lockdown and shrinking call centre demand.
2. Pay Attention to Personas
The prevalence of "Do Not Disturb' personas who have a low recall of their Energy Provider means an urgent need for rapid access and quick turnaround for their transactions.
Yet you’ll also need to satisfy a retired persona who needs the comfort of easy access to expert help, as well as an Engaged persona who demands the flexibility to choose 'zero carbon' energy plans that reduce the carbon footprint.