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This 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
Customers nationwide feel they are getting less value from their utility. Perceptions of paying reasonable rates for the services received from a utility are at the lowest levels we have seen since the end of 2015, as tracked in the Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement: Residential (UTBCE) study.
A Stunted Understanding of “Value”
Many utilities are increasing their attention on improving consumer value perceptions. While some utilities have long had “value” as a key performance indicator (KPI), others are now in the process of updating their customer experience KPIs and looking at including “value” in corporate scorecards. However, in utility-land, “value” often reads as “price” (or “rates”)—an interpretation that hamstrings utility efforts to drive value perceptions by leaving a very important part of the value equation off the table. Specifically, “value” is a combination of two things, what you pay (where utilities almost exclusively focus) and what you get.
“Signs and symbols rule the world”
Brand Appeal measures customers’ positive feelings for a company based upon the claims and visuals the company has created to establish a unique market position. The brand equity that companies evoke in customers’ minds relate to added pricing power and preferred provider status. The first quarter of the 2018 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential (UTBCE) study results are out and a new finding highlights 131 utilities’ Brand Appeal with their respective residential customers.
Brand Appeal Is in the Eyes of the Customer
Establishing high Brand Appeal enables utilities to engineer customer support and loyalty using design and color to shape a unique impression in customers’ minds. By asking respondents to rate their utility’s visuals such as logos and slogans, the UTBCE study has identified the utilities that have created the most appealing customer value propositions. Six utility brands rise to the top with a brand that invokes a high level of customer appeal. As utility customers select who they want to do business with, these six utilities are the likely winners with great brand equity and considered significantly more “ideal” than any other utility.