Ed’s note: The customer is king for some utilities


Customer service initiatives by utilities have achieved a level of importance and investment never before experienced, with emphasis being placed on ensuring consumers receive tangible benefit from various utility-driven programmes and initiatives.

Often, however, it would appear that many of these initiatives occur in a vacuum, with little or no recognition for the utilities at the forefront of such innovations.

A consumer advocacy body, the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, however, has recognised five US utilities for the work they are doing in providing consumers with benchmark-setting levels of service and engagement.

They have recognised the following utilities under their 2019 Best Practice award programme:

•       Smart Energy Innovation: Reliant Energy for their ground-breaking work around voice assistants for home energy management.

•       Culture Transformation: Entergy for transitioning to a more customer-focused internal culture that’s more adept at responding to consumers’ needs.

•       Consumer Engagement: NB Power for revitalising their energy efficiency portfolio with a focus on achieving high customer engagement metrics.

•       Underserved Markets: Avangrid for developing an energy efficiency programme that effectively educates and engages lower-income consumers.

•       Consumer Education: Austin Energy for its Austin Energy All-stars programme that educates students, parents and teachers to build a more energy-conscious community.

Reliant, one of Texas’s largest electricity providers, partnered with Google and Nest to develop an energy-plus-voice plan called “Speak and Save.” Reliant customers received a free Nest Thermostat E and a free Google Home to better manage their home energy use when they enrolled in the programme.

Google’s voice assistant, enabled Reliant customers to manage their accounts through various commands, including “Hey Google, ask Reliant about my ‘plan details,’ ‘account balance’ or ‘usage.’” They can even control their thermostat with, “Ok Google, make it warmer,” or “Ok Google, make it cooler.”

These is just some of the many exciting and interesting customer service initiatives which are being undertaken by utilities across the world and we’ll explore these and other programmes in the next edition of Smart Energy International.

Got an interesting customer engagement programme?

We’d love to hear from you to understand how you are taking customer engagement and customer service to another level. More importantly, we’d love to hear what your customers are saying about the culture change occurring within the utility sector. Share your stories with us at editorial@smart-energy.com

Until next week!