“It is not loyalty when you only have one choice.” This is a quote from Nicholas Odom, he is working with numerous customers in various industries and although he is not working particularly in Utilities he summarized the current state of many Utilities, especially in regulated markets, precisely. For sure Utilities have been moving from a “meter centric” view to a customer one, but in reality, they can still learn a lot from other industries. And this is where Nicholas is coming into play, as he shares best practices and insights from his daily work with customers and their challenges.
To provide a good experience for sure is a good starting point, but I risk saying that this is nothing extraordinary and should be the number one priority for all companies, including utilities. But what is needed to create long lasting loyalty? Does a single experience need to be outstanding? Or is it that a series of experiences need to have a good level? The reality is that a lot of factors need to come into play, and we have to breakdown what we mean by “good experiences”. I personally map that term to an interaction with a human being at a Utility. Most likely a person working in the call center and trying to help me with an issue. Is it the friendliness of that person? The skill level and the ability to solve the issue faster than expected? Then I remember my last interaction with my energy provider: I was chatting with a chatbot and could change my monthly installment while sitting on the couch with my mobile phone. Was that a good experience? Yes, for me it was one, even though I did not think about that in an instant. And then I start thinking about companies I tend to be loyal to, and on top of the list is Amazon. I usually don’t even compare prices from websites anymore because the whole package that Amazon offers to me is more important than just the price and then potential trouble if something goes wrong. They earned my trust over the course of several years by providing excellent service if something goes wrong, have a huge portfolio of products, and deliver fast and in a reliable way. On top of that they even offer me stuff as a Prime customer that I don’t even use!
Coming back to Utilities: I believe that they can be the Amazon of the energy dimension. I am interested in solar, we got you with products and services! I want to reduce my carbon footprint and want to reduce my energy consumption; we are here with expertise and high skilled consultants! In my house I want to install an EV charging station, but it should be a turnkey solution; no problem, we have the expertise and can help you find electricians from your area.
It is important to have loyal customers to increase the customer value and to be able to offer other, non-commodity products and services. Even in markets where customers don’t have the chance to switch providers, they have the freedom to choose with whom they are interacting and more.
If you are interested you can watch the recording of the roundtable discussion I had with Nicholas Odom and Dirk Fleischer, Head of Sales at Encore. We talked exactly about this topic at the SAP and Intel Business Transformation Tour: “From good experience to long lasting loyalty – managing customer value”, you can register for free and watch it here: Business Transformation Tour 2022 (vfairs.com)