Energy companies are shifting away from call centre culture and increasingly using technology to retain customers and improve customer service; just as technology is disrupting their industry. However, that’s not all they’re doing. They’re also trying to use new technologies to increase brand awareness and gain more market shares in an increasingly diverse and competitive marketplace. Let’s take a look at how energy and utility companies are using innovation to improve their marketing efforts.
Chatbots and Personal Assistants
Three quarters of utility marketers said that improving customer contact strategy was their top priority. One strategy is providing far more channels for the customer to reach out and interact with the customer. For example, it is letting the customer talk to customer support via apps and chatbots instead of limiting them to emails or calls to a call centre.
Another is increasing the level of interaction with the customer. This can be seen in energy usage reports sent to customers and platforms that let them switch energy plans and request additional services at the click of a button. Giving customers these options gives them a greater sense of control, and they appreciate the convenience. Chatbots that answer their questions as they navigate plan comparisons are valued for the level of support they provide. This increased automation can help utility companies provide better service at a lower cost, too.
Personalisation is one area where utility companies can do better. IT and marketing tend not to work together. This dates back to the days when utility companies only interacted with customers via multiple meter readings a year, and internal infrastructure focused on recruiting new customers or maintaining existing systems. Combining customer data into a single database and providing excellent, omni-channel service was seen as unnecessary. Unfortunately, your customers can more easily compare your service and prices to the competition, so you’ll lose out if you don’t keep up.
Business electricity suppliers are also using energy comparison sites to their advantage. Comparison sites offer them the opportunity to access energy shoppers who are actively shopping for an alternative, giving them a great way to attract new customers.
Comparison sites pit firms against multiple competitors, so they have to come up with a winning strategy, whether it is lower energy rates, unique features, value-added services or a greater reliance on renewable energy.
Utility companies originally marketed themselves as power companies. In recent years, they’ve shifted their branding efforts and started marketing themselves as “energy service providers”.
This allows them to sell complementary services such as consulting to reduce energy consumption to installing insulation in your attic. This gives them an additional source of revenue while reducing energy demand, improving the odds energy suppliers don’t have to build new capacity. Or they’re moving into new, related areas. For example, technology companies are installing charging points for electric cars. Providing advice on the selection of smart, energy efficient appliances is seen as a customer service, though it reduces consumer demand for power over the long-term.
Technology is revolutionising the utility industry and the way it is presenting itself to the public. It is also driving customer expectations for better service at a lower cost.