Effective customer engagement is essential in this digital era and can benefit retailers and networks exponentially. Here, Matt Grantham, Head of Strategy and Business Development at Billcap, discusses how Billcap is helping utilities reap the rewards of improved customer satisfaction.
Ahead of his presentation at the Digital Utilities 2020 conference in Sydney from 19-20 March, Mr Grantham explained how Billcap has helped several utilities reduce churn by considering their customers on a more personal level.
By proactively communicating with their customers on behaviour and events that impact their bill, and addressing changing consumer expectations and demographics, utilities can preserve and deepen relationships with customers.
“There should be more emphasis placed on the views of the general populace, as well as the organisation’s position in the public eye,” Mr Grantham said.
“To date, utilities have done the equivalent of throwing a bill at customers every three months saying ‘you owe us money’.”
Mr Grantham explained that Billcap’s approach is based around giving the consumer knowledge, resources and autonomy in order to increase their satisfaction.
“Our suite of digital engagement tools give customers weekly updates on their spend, as well as insights on how they are performing relative to their historical usage and against peers in their suburb or local area,” Mr Grantham said.
“Ultimately, people are never really happy about spending money on energy. But if customers are presented with insights showing how they are outperforming similar households and given tips on how to reduce their costs their satisfaction with a utility improves significantly.”
Boosting demand response
Developing and maintaining this relationship with customers translates to benefits across the board. Unlocking the value of demand response programs, for instance, is reliant on retailers and networks creating trusted digital relationships with customers well before the commencement of a program.
Utilities are far more likely to be able to enlist the help of customers during peak events if they have built trust through an ongoing digital relationship.
Billcap’s demand response product leverages this personalised digital experience to create a relationship of collaboration between the service provider and the customer.
“A ripple effect is generated through emphasising the positive environmental and economical effects of collective customer engagement in demand response programs,” Mr Grantham said.
“Signed-up customers spread the word to their peers, whom, if interested, follow the message on to their own peers. As a result, the collective effect of demand response messages increases.”
The ‘power of the people’ is never more apparent than with successful demand response programs. Yet many network providers struggle to move beyond pilot programs to roll out demand response at scale.
Mr Grantham believes that by further highlighting the individual and collective effects of the demand response event to customers, popularity within the project will be organically promoted.
“Customers are not shown the full potential of demand response programs,” Mr Gratham said.
“The incentive of remuneration is adequate, but there is a deeper level of engagement with demand response programs that should be utilised to realise its full effectiveness.”
Delivering a seamless digital experience
One of the key aspects that will determine whether a utility will succeed in navigating a customer-focused digital transformation will be related to its ability to recognise and implement low-cost, bite-sized innovation.
“It comes from the synergy of chief customer officers working with their IT teams to identify these high-value customer-centric pain points – like churn reduction or cost – and then delivering a solution that provides quick payback times, while also positioning the utility to leverage the next generation of cloud-based infrastructure to create even more value over time,” Mr Grantham said.
“There also needs to be a commitment across the business – at a leadership and strategy level – to optimise the digitised customer experience, rather than accepting what the legacy data infrastructure currently allows them to do.”
Market research and analysis suggests that the consumers of the future will be digital natives, far more conscious of their collective environmental impact and the ethics around their energy supply.
“The next generation of consumers will not accept anything less than a seamless digital experience,” Mr Grantham said.
“But there is also likely to be a big shift toward utilities who offer customers more control over their devices through online platforms, whether that be for comfort or reduced costs.”
How can utilities embed a culture of iteration, improvement and change, whilst maintaining excellence in customer experience?
Hear more from Matt Grantham about how Billcap is helping energy retailers increase customer acquisition and retention at Digital Utilities 2020, running from 19-20 March at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney.