Customers engage with utility providers thanks to mobile apps

The new standard: Customer Engagement Solutions for energy providers

Nowadays, customers like to have a say when it comes to the choice of their energy provider. It now more than ever is all about the service they provide and how much control they give to customers. Customers are looking for solutions focused on them, and that integrate them more into the energy supply process.

So what can utility providers do to create better customer engagement? To find out, we spoke to Arnout Bakker, Sales Executive and Board Advisor at Hoverture, an international and multidisciplinary group that brings together entrepreneurs inspired by a passion for innovation, all with the goal of accelerating the future by applying it to the present.

You can listen to our full discussion below, recorded live at the e-World Energy & Water event in Essen, Germany.

What’s the driving force behind Customer Engagement Solutions?

When we ask ourselves who’s driving this transition towards customer engagement solutions, the answer turns out to be both utility providers and customers themselves.

Customers initiate a shift, as they want to be able to overlook and take action on each part of their energy consumption. Rather than just getting a bill at the end of the year with a summary report, customers want to be in control all the time and get the insights they need at any time.

As for utility providers, even if some already use some sort of customer engagement solutions, they generally lack in providing their customers with a solution that fully enables them. Offering options such as smart metering or giving insights to help customers reduce their costs is taking a step in the right direction. However, they do need to take a step further and think about the whole picture.

“I think the underlying thing to do to get it all together, said Arnout, is really about a product catalog based solution with an asset loyalty system and putting CPQ order management behind it as well because it’s complex. It’s not only gas, not only electricity, it is the whole package that really drives it.”

Hidden benefits of customer engagement solutions

The benefits of a good customer engagement solution can be summarized to a single word: data. These solutions give you access to much more information than what utility providers used to have access to, like energy or water consumption. It’s now possible to take more parameters into account, such as living or work environments, compare it to other customers, etc. It allows energy providers to give their customers more educated advice and services. The more data you get, the better you can individualize offers that are well suited to each individual customer.

With artificial intelligence, your utility company is able to get data inputs right from the source. And that data doesn’t need to be limited to the customer’s consumption, but can also take in account many parameters, from the customer’s living environment compared to their job environment, and more. This access to data is the hidden benefit of a good customer engagement: the relationship between customer and energy provider benefits greatly from it, as you as a utility provider are enabled to offer the best possible package or solution for your client.

Customer Engagement Solutions are the new standard

In a highly competitive market where customers tend to jump from one provider to another, if you don’t provide a customer engagement solution in the near future, you will lose customers and might go out of business soon after. The number of customers will only grow marginally – if it grows at all in some regions – so taking your slice of the cake and not losing customers over time becomes primordial.

Of course, costs of service and of sales is still at the center of the game – with customers looking for the best offer – but having the right customer engagement solution can make a big difference.

“I think that the energy provider that delivers all those capabilities in a very nice app, is the one that will take on business and go hunt for other companies’ customers,” Bakker told us. “There’s no time to wait and see what the others are doing. To move forward, to do something different, you must be very disruptive in this market.”

And companies that are willing to adapt faster may even have the opportunity to leapfrog competitors.