With a little effort, these customers could become your most loyal, active
Anyone who helps direct the customer outreach activities of a business enterprise knows that, in an ideal world, you should be tailoring your marketing efforts to different audiences. But for energy utilities, which have an obligation to serve a consumer base as diverse as the country, it can be especially hard to know where to start.
So to focus your efforts for 2016, ask yourself: If I could target just one customer segment this year to improve my customer metrics, which should it be?
After nearly two years of running the Residential Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™ study, the answer is clear to me: The customer segment you should be targeting now is Hispanics.
After analyzing results from almost 100,000 surveys, Hispanics as a group stand out as the most loyal, active and engaged customers you could have. For example, Hispanics are more likely to use more of their utility’s enhanced products and options than nearly any of the 11 other key customer segments that we’ve identified. Hispanics are also more likely than most to adopt the special billing and payment options and utilize the mobile and digital offerings that utilities work so hard to get their customers to use, and those options present great expense-saving opportunities while increasing customer engagement—a win-win. Perhaps most notably, Hispanics are more likely to become brand ambassadors for you, as their increased engagement levels result in them making positive comments about their utility.
Hispanic consumers have become so important to the utility industry that last year we began reporting on them separately. We began specifically recognizing utilities that do the best job of engaging with their Hispanic customers—Hispanic Customer Champions. Interestingly, only three border-state utilities have made our Hispanic Customer Champion listing, which indicates tremendous untapped potential to increase customer engagement and brand trust with Hispanics.
You’ll see it’s not complicated when you look at what top-ranked Oklahoma Gas & Electric is doing to reach its Hispanic customers. The 750,000-customer electric utility is simply meeting them where they are, by establishing a presence at a variety of Hispanic community events, joining the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and partnering with a public relations firm that specializes in tapping the Hispanic market.
As an energy utility, you’ve got a wide variety of consumer segments to reach and limited resources with which to do it. To be more cost-effective at customer management, the most effective Chief Customer Officer going forward will need to pivot from making easy decisions on improving delivery and service quality and do the hard work of making sure they are positioned well with the customer segments their utility serves. And like our competitive industry counterparts, that means setting brand, product and overall customer engagement goals by customer segment.
Our study has identified 12 key customer segments the utility industry needs to manage. Hispanic customers are front and center for most utilities as a segment that can rate their utility very high, and that should be nurtured and leveraged to help build local perceptions of the utility. Overall, when you consider all of your touch points and customer relationship levers by each segment you serve, the results of your customer management plans will be more cost effective and productive. And, over time, as your organization sees the value in a marketing strategy that includes segmentation, you can expand your efforts to the next high-potential subset.
For more on building brand trust and residential customer engagement, download our on-demand webinar or request more information on our report. And watch for future posts throughout the year about reaching the 12 key customer segments.