Emergence of Improving Customer Experience within Energy and Utility Business

By Naveen Sikka, Principal Industry Consultant- Energy & Utility, SAS India

The energy and utilities industry is currently undergoing a rapid and transformative evolution. Stringent regulations and fierce competition, particularly from alternative energy providers, are pushing traditional providers to re-evaluate their strategies. Moreover, the rise of customer-producer dynamics and image issues have created an urgent need for change. One of the primary challenges facing the industry is enhancing the customer experience, second only to maintaining regulatory compliance. As today’s customers demand more than ever and voice their opinions on social media, it is crucial for energy and utility providers to shift their focus outward and become customer-centric organizations driven by information.

The Risk of Customer Churn
In this industry, where products are often standardized and undifferentiated, standing out and building customer loyalty present significant challenges. Companies are increasingly at risk of customer churn, yet surprisingly, the adoption of digital channels and analytical solutions has been gradual, with most analytical efforts centered on operational efficiency rather than customer intelligence.

Leveraging the Power of Big Data and Customer Intelligence
In the past, the lack of customer focus was partly attributed to data shortages, with limited contact and billing information available. However, in the era of big data and the Internet of Things, the amount of accessible information has exponentially increased. This wealth of data includes POS data, digital channel data, unstructured social media data, weather and traffic monitoring, and demographic data. While the energy and utilities industry excels in managing operational efficiency, this focus has often overshadowed the importance of customer experience.

Incorporating both operational efficiency and customer experience into the business strategy is a game-changer. Companies now possess enough customer information to create detailed profiles, allowing them to move beyond generic offers and provide personalized advice and resolutions. Real-time analytics empowers customer service teams to access comprehensive customer histories during interactions, enabling meaningful solutions.

Advantages of a Data-Driven Customer Approach
Embracing a data-driven customer approach offers numerous advantages, including better campaign management ROI and reduced churn rates. The ability to recognize customers across channels in real-time provides a significant competitive advantage. Implementing customer intelligence solutions optimizes campaign management through better segmentation and enhances the personalization and timing of customer interactions. This reduces marketing fatigue and increases customer acceptance. An oil and gas company was able to increase its sales volume by 10-15% due to SAS Customer Intelligence solutions. They achieved this by offering promotion discount schemes to customers in different segments based on their profiles.

Proactively Addressing Customer Churn
A robust customer intelligence program helps identify customers at risk of churning, allowing companies to address their needs proactively. Imagine a centralized decision-making hub that consolidates all customer interactions, providing a coordinated strategy to meet individual customer needs. By synchronizing customer data, this hub empowers marketers to respond effectively and efficiently at every point of the customer journey, elevating marketing efforts to new heights. For example, SAS Customer Intelligence allows marketers to plan, analyze, engage, and measure the entire customer journey and omnichannel experiences more effectively. The integrated production and management of real-time content drives growth, reduces costs, and creates breakthrough customer experiences.

Embrace the Transformation
In conclusion, the emergence of improving customer experience within the energy and utility business has become a compelling and urgent imperative. In an industry where competition is fierce and customers demand more personalized attention, adopting a customer-centric, data-driven approach is the key to sustained success. By harnessing the power of big data, analytics, and real-time customer insights, companies can elevate their services, reduce churn, and build lasting relationships that withstand the test of time.

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