Bridging the Divide: Utilities and the Customer Capabilities Gap

New Navigant white paper finds utility executives’ confidence to deliver a better customer experience is low

Today’s utilities are facing regulatory disruption, stagnant load growth, financial pressures, and competition from other third-party service providers. At the same time, their customers have come to expect a service experience that is on par with the advanced support now offered by other industries. Websites with sophisticated self-service capabilities, mobile applications, and online chat support are just a few of the engagement channels now considered standard.

In a new white paper, Navigant looks at the changing dynamic between customers and their utilities. The paper’s findings are based on a study conducted in February and March in which nearly 100 utilities executives from North America where surveyed on customer engagement (CE), as well as interviews.

According to the report, “Utility executives do not feel their current capabilities are able to deliver what they consider to be top CE capabilities, such as having a single view of the customer (360 Degree View), the ability to send proactive alerts and notifications, enabling customer service representatives (CSRs) with analytics (Next Best Action), and their ability to provide effective self-serve options (Digital Transactions).”

Although most executives understand the shift toward greater customer engagement, not many felt confident about their utility’s ability to meet changing demands. As a part of the study, executives were asked to rank 15 categories of CE capabilities in order of importance and were then asked about their confidence levels related to their utility’s ability to perform each. Even for the capabilities that respondents felt were “Very” or “Of Utmost Importance” to their overall customer journey, fewer than two in five were “Very Confident” in their utility’s abilities. In fact, their absolute vote of confidence in current capabilities ranged from only 6% to 24%.

To address these gaps, utilities are increasingly shifting away from the traditional IT delivery models (i.e., building and maintaining solutions themselves) and moving toward third-party software as a service (SaaS) providers to enhance or add new CE capabilities. Nearly 60% of survey respondents indicated that they prefer buying new solutions to building and, notably, 76% said they are either using or are interested in using cloud-based or SaaS solutions.

The study also suggests that while customer information systems (CISs) continue to remain central and a priority in customer reference architecture, more executives are exploring a move toward a more federated, services-based architecture that enables greater customer experience via agile edge capabilities that surround the CIS. This surround strategy accomplishes a few objectives:

Gain additional insight from this Opower blog.

Join Navigant for two related webinars taking place June 23 and July 19.

Learn more about utilities and the customer gap

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