The 4 phases of customer engagement (many utilities are stuck at #1)

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Quick Take:  Paul De Martini has spent much  of his career helping shape the future of electric power. First as VP of Advanced Technology for Southern California Edison, where he oversaw its $2 billion smart grid initiative. And then as Chief Technology Officer for Cisco's smart grid initiative. And now as principal of the Newport Consulting Group.

 

That's why I thought you'd want highlights from a recent talk, as reported and further researched by Renewable Energy World. Paul has insights on several topics. I was most struck by his ideas on the evolution of the utility customer. In my view, most utilities clearly recognize #1 and are working on it. And a few are grappling with #4, especially as it relates to net metering. But only a few have even started thinking about #2 and #3. – Jesse Berst

 

Being customer facing is increasingly part of the utility equation. It requires a deeper level of engagement along with new ways to reach customers, especially social media. Today's customers want anytime, anywhere communications.

 

Linking the smart grid with these new social and mobile technologies can empower at least four forms of customer partnerships:

1.     Customer Control (customer information and options)

2.     Customer Context (content tailored to location and device)

3.     Customer Collaboration (myriad social channels)

4.     Customer Co-creations ("prosumers" and "net zero" customers)

 

De Martini cites San Diego Gas & Electric, BC Hydro, Opower and Tendril as examples of organizations with strong customer engagement skills. He warns we will see at least as many disruptive technologies over the next 10 years as we did the previous decade, which brought us Facebook in 2004, twitter in 2006, the iPhone in 2007, Instagram in 2010 and the Nest thermostat in 2011.

 

Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.

 

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