Becoming a customer-centric, information-driven organisation is no longer simply an option for most utility companies, it’s a business imperative. Technology shifts, regulatory changes and the growing expectations of consumers all demand a new approach to customer engagement. With analytics, utility companies can make the shift to engage with customers in highly personalised ways that can increase customer satisfaction, lower the cost of service and promote new products and services.
By harnessing the power of Big Data, Utilities can identify new and innovative ways to grow their business and increase revenue whilst reducing the costs. Consumption patterns and behaviours can be identified such as revealing how certain household respond to changes in external temperatures, or how occupancy patterns change over time in a household. These insights can then be applied to help identify the specific customers that could benefit from installing a smart thermostat, rather than mass targeting customers that wouldn’t benefit. This will also help utilities to save money on product costs as well as helping to form better relationships with customers by making propositions more relevant.
So how can this help to build better customer engagement, I hear you cry, well, by using and analysing this data, utilities can take each customer through a personal energy journey, tailored specifically for individual households. In building a closer relationship with their customers, utilities will be able to leverage data science and provide their customers with greater visibility of their energy use, show them how to improve, helping them be more efficient and reward their efforts to incentivise behavioural change. Use of innovative engagement tools, such as a smart phone app, means energy usage can be seen at an appliance level and compared with other similar households. This helps the individual to understand and manage their energy consumption, whilst adding an element of gamification through targets and rewards.
Consumer data at this level can also assist with bill breakdown by enabling clearer explanations as well as providing practical, personal and relevant advice about how bills can be managed. For the utility, this builds trust with the customer and can have a direct impact on customer retention. As households save energy as a direct result of the advice and relevant products from their energy supplier, they are more likely to remain loyal customers.
This can in turn have a real impact on behavioural change. If utilities have more personalised relationships with their customers, it means they are less likely to switch to a different energy provider, meaning you win the customer loyalty battle.
It is inevitable that utility businesses will evolve to become highly dependent on consumer data, therefore companies need to ensure that they are capable of using customer insights to benefit their business operations and enhance relationships with the customer.
However, turning complex data into intelligent business decisions is easier said than done. Collecting customer usage data is easy; the industry has been efficiently doing this for decades but making sense of it isn’t so simple. Often data exists in disparate systems and departments, across endless spreadsheets and even buried within filing cabinets, making accessing vital information and making sense of it nearly impossible.
In response to this, Utilities have been turning to ANS to help migrate to the cloud in order to build highly scalable and secure Big Data applications at pace which can be combined with high-powered analytics to help organisations make smarter business decisions.
The UK’s largest car part dealer, ECP turned to ANS to gain deeper insights into their business. The organsaion had already collated years’ worth of data but this was fragmented and stored across a number of different systems, making it impossible to extract meaningful information. By partnering with ANS, ECP have been able to process this data in a cloud environment that is offering flexibility and scalability to enable them to analyse and compare data to provide real-time updates on stock availability as well as ensure they were purchasing the right products at the right time and for the best price.
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Posted by Helen Thomas