Customer Experience exclusively for utilities suppliers?

20 April 2015

In a deregulated utilities market, like Belgium, the customer is the main concern for suppliers in the value chain. Suppliers really need their customers' consumption of gas, electricity and preferably some other products as well. This enables them to create loyalty, increase brand awareness and provide an added value experience to their customer. So yes, suppliers are focusing more and more on their customers.

If you look a bit deeper into the customer experience however, the DGO (Distribution Grid Operators) are even more important for an energy prosumer! Just follow the money! On average, an invoice for electricity is divided into 10% government, 35% supplier, 45% DGO and 10% TSO (Transmission Grid Operators).

Where should you expect the best service and customer experience?

What is most important for the DGO? The customer or his future meter reading device?

If everything goes well, you receive a yearly bill from your supplier which is automatically paid for by your bank. When you move, it’s just one call to provide them with your new address.

The DGO is not a commercial organization and they do have a monopoly in their region. They perform services for their customers and interact with them to register meter indexes, to install meter devices, to troubleshoot technical issues, perform local grid work and handle power outages. The DGO often has more touch points (non sales & marketing) with his customer than the supplier has. The DGO is also responsible for the continuous supply of gas and electricity and to inform the customers on projected supply and usage. To deliver all those non-commercial services they drive in branded cars and trucks. But does the DGO need brand awareness? In fact how many customers know their DGO?

Does a customer want value added services?

It is a given fact that customers want to consume as little energy as possible and want to pay the lowest price for their gas and electricity. The distributed grid operators however, want to provide value added services to customers that help them achieve the 20/20/20 goals together. In the transformation from an electronic and mechanical DGO-world to a digital DGO-world, important customer touch points will come on top of the digital grid management challenge.
But are customers really waiting for value added services? Do they need a one stop shop for all their energy related challenges?

Let’s assume for a moment they do want these services. Why not make them available as an add-on for their existing telecommunications contract?

Who will win the battle for the customer? Suppliers? DGOs? Telecom? Google?

Of course suppliers currently service their customers and strive to get maximal loyalty but the DGO receives the largest part of the customer’s payment. The DGO has the most touch points with the customer. Who then, should focus most on the customer and his energy experience?

What about other players? Why are telecom providers in Belgium not invading the supplier market? They have a large customer base, well-known brands, a billing engine based on metered data, … and a communication line to a lot of buildings. Are they just waiting for smart meters to arrive or is the current commodity gas & electricity business model not appealing enough?

Where is the internet of things headed to in the Energy world? Will Google, and similar organizations, not only provide us with our future smart phones, smart cars and smart houses, but also the smart energy to feed all those smart things? Will they provide micro-grids to optimize balancing of demand and supply? Can their cars be used as a mobile energy storage to deliver energy when needed, driving autonomous between local production and home?

Will an Uber-like solution or organization bring the right things together and disrupt the traditional Energy market? Even for the DGOs?

What can you do?

At AE we are convinced that some suppliers, DGOs or ESCOs are already working on a good approach to support their customers. Others might still need some help to create their customer vision and experience. With a major step towards smart energy in Belgium in the next coming years, the energy landscape will start to look very different.

How can your organization survive and grow into the future?

  • Make sure you know your prospects and customers and provide the right service to the right customer: analytics@ae.
  • Make sure you deliver him a great experience while being served by you: digital@ae.
  • Prepare your organization for the digital transformation and reinvent your business. If you don’t, others will: hackathon@ae.

A lot will change in the coming years for the energy sector in Belgium and the customer will be the center in that change.

So one thing is sure: The Customer should be everybody’s focus! Let’s start today!

Follow us on Utilities@AE!

Pieter Jaeken

Written by Pieter Jaeken

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