How utilities can increase customer satisfaction by spending less (really!)


By Jesse Berst


Every once in a while technology makes it possible to spend less money while simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction.


Consider ATMs when they first proliferated in the 1970s and 1980s. After an initial adjustment period, customers quickly claimed to prefer ATMs to human tellers for simple transactions. And to appreciate anywhere, anytime access. Yet an ATM transaction costs a bank far less than one involving a teller.


A similar opportunity exists today for electric power utilities. Utilities are wasting a lot of money on old-school, agent-based transactions, as I learned recently from a conversation with Greg Guthridge, Managing Director of Accenture Retail and Business Services for Utilities.

What to do with your windfall

What should you do with the money you'll save? Greg says utilities should re-deploy their customer service resources to play a more consultative role. I learned that and a lot more from Greg and by studying Accenture's latest research, including:

·         Why you should create a social media strategy... But not go overboard

·         Why simplicity is the key to successfully launching new energy services

·         Why the traditional one-size-fits-all strategy is a big mistake today

·         Why consumers want additional energy products and services... and how to make sure they buy them from you


I don't have time to go through all the nuggets I gleaned, but you don't have to do without. Simply download Accenture's 2012 energy consumer research, which they have made available for free.


You may also want to read...

Cracking the consumer messaging code

It's the planning, stupid! How utilities are messing up their smart grid communications

Video replay: Science of Customer Engagement Webinar


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.