Three Things Utilities Can Do to Delight Their Customers

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Three Things Utilities Can Do to Delight Their CustomersThis article is not about building the fundamentals for strong customer engagement: operational excellence, a strong brand and value-added product offerings. Instead, it’s about the moments that catch customers off guard—in a good way—and how utilities can intentionally create those moments in their customer interactions. These moments help support a solid customer experience strategy, and more importantly, help create advocates, as customers share with friends and family, “you won’t believe what my utility company did!”

1. Invite new customers into a relationship

My colleague Chris Oberle, senior vice president of the Energy Research and Consulting group at Market Strategies International, has written about the missed opportunity for customer onboarding. Two years later, only 8% of customers new to their utility recall receiving any sort of welcome or onboarding material. Continue reading

Making VR a Market Research Reality

Virtual Reality Is More Than Fun and GamesMaking VR a Market Research Reality

Over the past four years, a flurry of product introductions has created significant buzz around the area of virtual reality (VR), and much of the hype is well deserved. Users confirm that VR offers an incredibly immersive experience. In practical terms, this means that VR users feel swept away from their actual, physical environment and transported into an entirely separate virtual environment that fully engages their senses of sight and sound. Fighting off robots in the land of Robo Recall when one is actually standing in one’s living room is both thrilling, fun and magical. However, academic research indicates that the benefits of virtual reality go far beyond offering a novel experience for gamers. Continue reading

Will Uber Health and Lyft Concierge Change Healthcare?

Will Uber Health and Lyft Concierge Change Healthcare?This year Uber and Lyft formally entered the healthcare market to offer rideshare services to nonemergency patients for transportation to scheduled doctor appointments. Patient no-shows are a prevalent problem in the US, with an estimated 3.6 million Americans reportedly missing their scheduled doctor appointments due to transportation issues each year. Rideshare services may particularly benefit older Americans, Medicaid patients and those with chronic diseases to help keep appointments and get care. Uber and Lyft have identified a wide-open opportunity that could significantly improve their business and simultaneously reduce healthcare costs and improve quality care. Continue reading

Technology Changed the Purchase Journey, Now Research Has to Change Too

How Brands Can Benefit from Path-To-Purchase ResearchDo you know where your customers are coming from, how they decide which providers they choose and why? Technology has drastically changed the purchase journey for most businesses on multiple levels. Most purchase journey research is still treating the path as linear even though it is becoming increasingly dynamic and web-like, with unlimited interactions. While the linear-path to purchase journey research allows you to gain a general understanding of what your customers’ purchase path looks like, it doesn’t give you the details to craft a high-functioning customer acquisition and retention plan.

The reality is that capturing “how and when” people buy is pretty easy. But the journey is complex, so the tough part is distilling the data into useful information so you know exactly which actions to take. Path-to-purchase research should go beyond what the journey looks like—it should reveal the most important interactions for your potential customers and your brand. Continue reading

How to Manage Utility Net Promoter Score Performance

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How to Manage Utility Net Promoter Score Performance

“And when you speak of me, speak well.”
Bull Durham  

As utilities seek to evolve their customer management performance goals beyond traditional customer satisfaction metrics, utilities are evaluating updated measures and management approaches that better reflect success in the transforming utility market—one of those is the Net Promoter Score, or NPS. The NPS metric is based on a question regarding the likelihood of a customer to recommend the company to others. The scale is 0–10 and based on the percentage of those posting a rating of 9–10 (Promoters) minus the percentage of those rating 0–6 (Detractors), and then multiplying the result by 100. The Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential (UTBCE) study has the most robust database to help utilities measure, benchmark and manage NPS. The study has been tracking NPS quarterly since 2016 and provides data-based analysis, modeling and insights to help utilities perform well on this metric.

The formula for calculating NPS. Net Promoter Score

The Core of the NPS Debate

For both the utility and the customer, there is confusion regarding why a customer would be compelled to “recommend” their regulated utility. If they want utility service, they use the utility. How can a monopoly motivate customers to recommend it? And, what is the value to the utility?
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Amazon Is At It Again: Disrupting Healthcare and Pharma

Amazon Is at It Again: Disrupting Healthcare and PharmaAmazon already has a deep hook in the book, retail, delivery service, music, video, restaurant and even grocery space. It looks like healthcare is its next big target. Healthcare is a broad arena tangled in complexities. Most consumers struggle with understanding the lingo, getting quality care, managing payments and getting the prescriptions they need without breaking the bank. There are many controversial parts to how our healthcare system works, and Amazon has just tossed its hat into the ring with its announcement of its purchase of online pharmacy PillPack. What does this mean for the pharmacy space and will it impact the larger healthcare system?

The Amazon Threat Boils Down to Trust

Our team at Market Strategies has been anticipating the announcement of Amazon entering the healthcare market, so we conducted a self-funded a study to find out if consumers are open to purchasing healthcare services and prescriptions through nontraditional healthcare companies. We know that consumers have a high level of trust in Amazon, but will this level of trust extend to its healthcare services?
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Death of Net Neutrality Is Not Necessarily a Good Thing for ISPs

New Market Strategies study reveals consumer attitudes on “fast” and “slow” lanes   

Many industries are closely watching the future of net neutrality. Just last month, the Senate voted to preserve net neutrality, blocking a Federal Communications Commission plan to undo rules set during the Obama era. But short of any eleventh-hour political victories, net neutrality is set to end on June 11.

Industries such as telecommunications, technology and media have a stake in this issue. One of the more contentious aspects of net neutrality is what experts call “fast lanes” and “slow lanes.” Without net neutrality regulations, internet service providers (ISPs) could give certain content and streaming services faster connections, while slowing down other sites. It’s so controversial that even our own in-house telecom experts couldn’t agree on the issue.

While the future of net neutrality still hangs in the balance, it’s important for telecoms to understand consumer attitudes and preferences regarding this issue now. To that end, the telecom research division of Market Strategies International conducted a study to explore the potential consequences for both ISPs and streaming services. Our findings provide guidance on next steps for ISPs as politicians and consumers debate the future of net neutrality.

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Brand Evolution Is Hard—But It Doesn’t Have to Be Unnecessarily Risky

Brand Evolution Is Hard—But It Doesn’t Have to Be Unnecessarily Risky For many global companies, brand evolution is a natural part of running the business. As consumer attitudes and lifestyles change, so must brands if they want to continue to deliver value to their customers.

But in an effort to remain relevant, companies too often hinge their brand identities on current events and passing trends rather than thoughtfully forging a path forward. In this pursuit, many companies forget to first examine their place in the hearts and minds of customers. That’s a mistake because the stakes are high if you don’t get brand evolution right. This is a lesson Tropicana learned the hard way when, in 2009, it decided to drastically change the design of its packaging—a move that resulted in swift consumer backlash and a 20% sales drop.

Packaging is just one small part of your brand identity, but Tropicana’s misstep is a cautionary tale on the potentially risky consequences of making drastic changes to your brand without engaging with your customers first. In changing markets, it’s important to be nimble, but it’s even more crucial to step lightly and purposefully to maintain a healthy brand and avoid alienating existing customers.

We get it—evolving a well-recognized global brand is hard. Staying true to your brand while keeping up with the evolving habits and preferences of consumers is a tricky balance. But why do some companies pull off this transformation successfully while others confuse their customers and lose sales in the process? Examining three brands that are currently in transition can help answer this question.
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The Unique Value of Utility Marketplaces

The Unique Value of Utility MarketplacesIt is not a secret that energy utilities need to focus on strengthening customer relationships through brand and product efforts as brands like Tesla, Apple and Google are increasingly building consumer mindshare in the energy space. The good news is that utilities can reap dividends almost immediately by tapping into consumer demand for new energy technologies via a utility marketplace. Our energy industry research shows that utility marketplaces are the number one way utilities can improve their reputation and brand. In addition, marketplaces allow utilities to support demand-side management programs, improve customer experience and develop new revenue streams.
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Xfinity Mobile’s Surprising Impact on the Cable Industry

Consumers now see Comcast as a major Quad Play provider, new data shows  

Editor’s Note: This is the final installment of a three-part blog series based on a new, independent research study called “The Xfinity Mobile Effect.” As Comcast marks the one-year anniversary of its Xfinity Mobile launch, this series explores the success and competitive threat of cable companies offering wireless service. This research was featured on Fierce Wireless.

Since the arrival of the so-called “cord cutters,” many experts have been predicting the decline of the cable industry. But rather than back down, many cable MSOs have fought back not just through technological innovation, but also by expanding their businesses. Today, the cable companies experiencing the biggest growth are those that have some sort of bundling offerings, providing a slew of complementary services to customers.

Indeed, cable companies are in a race to establish themselves in the Quad Play business. The ability to provide TV, wireless, broadband and phone services has become a competitive advantage in a world where consumers are increasingly seeking out better deals and the convenience of doing business with just one company.

The latest company to enter Quad Play is Comcast, and the plan appears to be working so far. A new study conducted by the technology and telecom market research division of Market Strategies International shows compelling evidence that with the launch of Xfinity Mobile, Comcast has set itself as a viable Quad Play competitor.

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