- A new survey from GTM Research and EnergySavvy concludes that utilities with the best cost-to-serve and regulatory outcomes score higher in customer engagement maturity, helping to highlight how the customer experience remains tied to utility success — and vice versa.
- While customer satisfaction remains an important metric, the survey also found that many utilities are placing increasing emphasis on proprietary measures of satisfaction, and less emphasis on industry-wide metrics like the JD Power score.
- Among the challenges, utilities say it can be difficult to have the right customer experience data and to leverage modern analytics tools.
In addition to data analytics difficulties, the survey identified another area important to the customer experience — convincing utility executives to prioritize it.
“Utilities are coming under pressure to deliver the modern, personalized experience customers get from Amazon and Netflix, and these results reflect that,” Scott Case, COO of EnergySavvy, said in a statement
Case also said the findings highlight areas "where a lot of work still needs to be done," but noted that the correlation between regulatory outcomes and a lower cost-to-serve also shows "the amazing opportunity available to utilities when they make these investments.”
However, there is also a "customer engagement technology gap," the report found. GTM and EnergySavvy recommended utilities engage with cloud-based approaches to grid-edge analytics solutions that will allow for greater collaboration with trusted partners and vendors.
The eBook of findings released by the two companies also showed that 'brand building provides a strong foundation on which to strengthen strategic engagement." The survey showed that messaging around safety, prices, promotion of diversity and community outreach can all help to increase program participation.
“We’ve found in other recent research that customer engagement is the number one investment priority for utilities over the next 5 years as changes at the edge of the grid happen,” GTM Research Senior Grid Edge Analyst Fei Wang said in a statement. “However, this study illustrates a customer experience technology gap in the industry."
Wang said there may be many reasons for the gap, but two are more apparent. She said more than one person interviewed for the survey commented on the lack of internal technology capabilities as one factor slowing down the utility engagement efforts.Wang also said that "utilities are still grappling with how to demonstrate the ROI from these investments."
But as for the latest JD Power results, the annual study this year found an increase in customer satisfaction related to more information being shared during power outages and related to pricing information.
The study found more than 65% of residential utility customers surveyed are receiving critical information during a power outage, including the cause, number of those impacted and time estimates on when power will be restored. Customers who receive that information report a higher overall rate of satisfaction versus those who do not.