Customers in 2022 are more environmentally-conscious than ever before, and are becoming increasingly more aware of electric vehicles, self-generated energy sources and the impact of climate change.
As a result, consumers are now demanding that their utility providers ‘up’ their environmental game by introducing new initiatives, enhanced customer engagement and processes that help both the customer and utility to become more environmentally friendly.
In fact, a study from Escalent, which surveyed the 140 largest utility companies in the US, found that customers are increasingly expecting more from their utilities when it comes to being environmentally conscious. Here are some of those findings:
- One in five (19 percent) customers want an environmentally friendly rate plan, such as net metering, green energy, or EV.
- One in three (36 percent) customers says his or her utility should have a role in EV charging deployment.
- Over half (58 percent) of customers are interested in solar energy powering their home.
- Customers rank “clean environment” as the second most important cause utilities should support, following low-income family support.
- Two in three (64 percent) customers want their utility to invest in new technology to reduce climate impact.
Yet, despite these findings, the study found that only 19 percent of utility customers are aware of their utility’s efforts to minimize the impact of its operations on the environment.
“Utilities are raising the bar on being champions of the environment as their customers learn more about climate change. But, there is still a lot of work to do as the industry’s Environmental Dedication score remains one of the lowest of the 15 customer engagement factors we track in our research,” said Chris Oberle, Senior Vice President at Escalent.
“Consumer demand for utility efforts and offerings that help protect the environment is increasing every year.”
So, what can utility providers do to not only actively engage and delight their environmentally-conscious customers, but to also make a real difference that helps their business become more environmentally friendly?
We’ve listed a few ideas here:
#1 – Reduce Paper Communication
Customers don’t just want to be more eco-friendly themselves, they also want the companies they do business with to be part of that philosophy and lifestyle. That’s why we will see many more utilities focus on digital transformation, moving away from the traditional paper communication models of the past and embracing digital engagement instead.
Utilities will use customer portals (if they aren’t already) to engage with their customers online, reduce paper consumption and significantly enhance the overall customer experience.
#2 – Help your Customers Reduce their Energy Usage
Many utility customers today want to actively reduce their energy usage, both for cost and environmental reasons. Progressive utilities will start positioning themselves as an energy partner, and not just a provider.
To do this, utilities will have to introduce new methods of customer engagement and education around energy usage. A customer portal implementation will allow utilities to send easy-to-read usage and analytics data that give the customer valuable insights into how much energy they are using.
#3 – Broaden Utility Service Offerings
As we move forward into a more energy conscious new world, we expect to see utility providers start to provide new service offerings aimed at homeowners, small businesses and commercial customers.
Utilities will expand what they traditionally consider a utility service. One of the most talked about subjects in recent years, and what we expect to see many electric utilities transition to, is electric vehicle charging stations. This is just one example of the many environmentally-conscious service offerings that utility providers will consider for their customer base.
#4 – Provide Smart Metering and Real-Time Analytics
The traditional energy utility reads meters manually and uploads data to the database before sending usage data to the consumer. This is time-consuming and doesn’t provide either the utility or the customer with immediate real-time information.
Smart meters transmit information automatically in real-time,which gives utility providers the opportunity to gain insight into a customer’s utility usage at any point in time. The data can be shared through a customer portal with the consumer allowing them to also see their real-time usage consumption and make in-the-moment changes that dramatically impact how much energy they consume.
Are you interested in learning more about how digital transformation can help your utility become more environmentally friendly, cost effective and better serve your consumers? Get in touch with SilverBlaze today. Our team of specialists would love to answer your questions.