Price is no longer the key differentiator. You need personalized offerings and speed.
Both regulated utilities and retail energy suppliers compete in a high-pressure world in which commercial and industrial (C&I) customers demand more — more usage insights, more self-service channels, more ways to save money, and more sustainable options. At the same time, new entrants are constantly eyeing established players’ share of the business by offering innovations that prize speed, personalization, and value.To compete more effectively, energy and utility companies need to reorient the way they do business. This includes helping customers anticipate their own usage needs, automating basic back-end processes, personalizing services and offerings, and responding with flexibility at speed and scale across channels. Whether you are in a regulated or competitive energy market, here are the ways energy suppliers can meet C&I customer expectations with a digital strategy.
Accelerate customer acquisition and minimize churn.
Digitalization can help ramp up all aspects of your operations, from customer acquisition to contract renewal to cross-selling. It enables you to automate so you can speed up the quote process, or use artificial intelligence (AI) to help customers identify areas where they can save. Many industry leaders already recognize the value of these kinds of offerings: 92% of those asked in a survey by industry analyst DNV GL survey said they expect to maintain or increase spending on digitalization. Since 2014, the percentage of companies expecting to boost spending in this area has nearly doubled to 65%.
Staying competitive: Digitalization opens up your ability to attract more customers faster and command their loyalty longer because you can:
Wrangle and streamline complex and large quantities of data from multiple sources
Quickly serve customers with multiple sites
Navigate complex account hierarchies
Account for regional differences in regulation and approval processes
Translate complex account needs into personalized services and offerings
Identify areas to improve sustainability and help realize efficiency goals
Rapidly respond to a dynamic market
Companies on the path to digitalization realize that upgrading their systems can accelerate acquisition and minimize churn. But most utilities are enmeshed in legacy billing and customer information systems (CIS). These legacy systems were designed for simpler times, when there was less competition, fewer types of energy sources, and customer expectations were different. So they don’t have the capacity to navigate the dynamic data flows that energy and utilities companies use to manage complex B2B accounts today.There are out-of-the box solutions that can help you integrate customer data scattered across core business programs into a unified front office everyone can share — from the call center to contract managers. When everyone can access the same data, they can provide superior service and keep pace with the ever-rising expectations of your C&I customers.
Innovation is not just about new products. It’s about delivery for effective C&I management.
In the competitive field of C&I energy management, speed to quote is king. Often, the first quote delivered that meets the B2B’s basic needs wins. Digitalization can help automate the process to get personalized quotes to customers faster.To speed up response time and the ability to tailor bids to each customer requires a digital platform that connects critical data across systems. Companies can follow three key steps to handle larger volumes of customers and data — and then be ready to use that data to create tailored customer experiences.
ADAPT AN AGILE PROCESS FOR A SMOOTHER TRANSITION.
An agile approach allows development teams to test user interfaces and new offerings and to course-correct quickly without upsetting daily operations. Using a solution that seamlessly connects to back office systems, like billing and usage, to the front office reduces integration time and accelerates a utility’s ability to deliver meaningful value to the customer.A digital platform gives a utility the ability to rapidly ingest and analyze numerous data input streams and produce personalized offerings for each customer. Accessible by all, it also provides every team a holistic view of the customer with critical data and insights. This can result in faster response times and a high degree of personalization for:New products and quotes through the configure, price, quote (CPQ) systemBespoke requests, like monitoring usage by site or time frameIntegration with legacy billing systemsAutomated contract lifecycle management
PUT THE CUSTOMER AT THE CENTER OF ALL YOU DO.
Maintaining complex B2B relationships is easier when you put customers at the center of everything that you do. That means showing how you can anticipate what customers need and provide more benefits than they expected.Becoming truly customer centric is possible with a single platform, automation, and AI. A utility is then able to regularly recommend services and products based on customers’ behaviors and usage. With the power of integration, you can dynamically adjust offerings based on analytics and insights. For example, many C&I customers have expressed greater interest in energy efficiency programs, distributed energy resources, microgrids, and electric vehicle charging. In fact, 73% of commercial customers say they are interested in energy management analytics.
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C&I customers also prize self-service options, such as user-friendly customer portals. With an out-of-the-box solution, you can quickly set up and maintain the channel by integrating simple workflows to guide customers, for example, through the quote process. Everything becomes standardized and less complex.
BALANCE PRICING AND USER EXPERIENCE — AND ALWAYS BE TRANSPARENT.
With a digital foundation, companies can offer more competitive rates quickly while balancing its own risks. But price isn’t everything. According to one survey, nearly 86% of C&I customers choose to go with energy retailers if they have the option to select suppliers. These customers are actively skipping over the default provider in search of better service and value. But how do they choose the supplier that is right for them?Transparency is the foundation for customer trust and enables customers to compare and contrast packages from energy retail providers against competitors. When energy suppliers have a single source of truth pulling together customer data from multiple sources, they can show better understanding of customer needs and offer the right pricing, the best plans, and great features. C&I customers appreciate having all their account information readily available so they can track and understand their own consumption. You can also deliver a more tailored customer experience through alerts, notifications, and accessible information.When trying to attract new customers for C&I energy management, companies that offer bespoke service based on insights get an edge. That can only happen in energy companies steeped in a digital strategy.
Energy and utilities need to look well beyond pricing to win and keep C&I customers. In fact, 25% of commercial customers ranked service quality as more important than pricing and 58% would be willing to pay more for value.