After attending the 2013 EMACS and my 5th Chartwell conference, the trending strategies for utilities is becoming clear: Listen. Connect. Understand. Participants at the conference show us how they're doing this:
Listening leads to better business.
On day one Southern Co kicked off the conference with one of the key themes “know the customer” and “giving customers options has value”. She described how they use segmentation, target offerings and being more like a retailer as their goals.
Home Depot took a potentially damaging problem and turned it into a 3-year, company-wide initiative that lead to a BIG win – improving sustainability and wood purchase policy. They launched their ECO line of products; low VOC paints, low flow toilets, and CFL’s to improve sales and keep pace with customer needs. All this was initiated by listening, and a good example of the benefits received from understanding customer attitudes and behaviors.
Ameren is also taking the step to listen to their customers, and discussed their assembly of a cross-functional customer experience team – the first for the company with the mantra “put the customer first.” By doing this, they will measure everything as a best practice to show ROI.
AEP described the fear of new marketing retailers moving in to Ohio and Texas that will be able to offer several plan options to their customers. AEP is using incentives, experimental rate plans, and choice plans to stay competitive.
Connecting leads to better communication.
Avista is staying current by using social media to drive brand value – to educate, inform and engage. Their strategy starts with “influencers” like media, news, and sports outlets. Advocates and Ambassadors are now part of the plan and include sponsorships and non-profits to spread content via Twitter and Facebook.
Understanding pain points leads to increased customer satisfaction.
Duke Energy discussed using customer journey mapping in its efforts to understand their customers and uncover issues. Their goal was to “take an outside view in”. They used digital personas and included channels and research. Customers were participating and in the room, some were moderate and others were heavy digital users to provide immediate feedback. The nine-day session brought to light 44 digital journeys and 150 pain points.
We also heard from ONCOR on using focus groups to revamp mobile apps, Tucson Power on customer analytics and how they used and analyzed multiple sources of data to improve rate plans and collect more revenue, KCP&L on consistent messaging and PPL on how “Storm Sandy” changed everything about handling outages.
Chartwell ended the 3-day conference with the 10 catalysts for change based on their member survey. This entails how the digital user will be a huge driver of change, along with big data analytics.
How are you using these trends and staying competitive in 2014?