Grabbing the Levers of Change

How Two Utilities Are Differentiating Themselves for the 21st Century

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While upside opportunities on operational satisfaction are limited, there’s a significant opportunity to better engage electric and gas utility customers through a focus on brand trust and product experience. Brand trust and product experience compose up to two-thirds (60%–63% depending on utility type and region) of a customer’s engagement score with the utility, and both categories score consistently lower than operational satisfaction. These opportunities are clearly at the forefront of how Maik Neubauer, managing director of Shell PrivatEnergie, and Ari Sargent, CEO of Powershop, are thinking about building a successful 21st century utility, based on a webinar discussion I recently participated in with these two global energy experts.

Shell PrivatEnergie and Powershop are retail electric providers in Germany and New Zealand, respectively. Although both of these markets are highly competitive, the conversation provides key insights for utilities looking to strengthen their brand and stay in front of future regulatory and market changes.

Gaining Trust Using the Right Brand Differentiators

According to Maik, Shell PrivatEnergie is focused on service quality and brand reputation because low prices are not enough to sustain an advantage in a competitive market. Shell PrivatEnergie has leveraged the Shell brand and its motorsport heritage to stake a claim on being better and faster than its competitors. Additionally, the company has struck on a unique distribution channel, offering home electric and gas service at Shell service stations across Germany. The company has found this to be successful, and it is a tactic US utilities can use to more effectively reach customers where they are—for example, how Georgia Power has seamlessly integrated its energy-efficient lighting rebates with Home Depot and Walmart stores. Continue reading