Is great customer service the way forward for utilities?

The FT recently reported that faced with a grim future, many energy companies are choosing to reinvent themselves with a new focus on the technological revolution in home energy services.

“We are now providing customers with solutions, rather than just cubic metres of gas,” says Fulvio Conti, chief executive of Italian utility Enel.

Notice the difference in tone there?

Instead of just supplying the energy with what was almost a take-it-or-leave approach, these companies are now being forced to engage with their customers in a meaningful way.

Nimble new entrants to the energy sector can cut costs and quickly win business based on lower prices alone, until they get such a large customer base that they need to apply the same management processes as the giant firms.

But this means there is customer churn in the market. People are prepared to try out new suppliers because it is easy to switch. Price comparison websites let consumers explore all the options and then even allow the request for a change of supplier to be made immediately online.

Can the energy suppliers retain their customers by starting to focus on good customer service? It has worked in many other industries and it has often been proven that a company can charge a premium price if their service is good because customers remain loyal to companies they like, but the moment that customers are unhappy then the comparison will be all about price.

Have you noticed your own energy company taking a more personal approach when they deal with you? Leave a comment on the blog here or tweet me on @stuartmorristp.

Electricity pylons
Photo by Ian Britton licensed under Creative Commons

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This entry was posted in Customer Service, Social Media, Utilities and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Is great customer service the way forward for utilities?

  1. Eptica says:

    There has been a lot of talk about the growing importance of customer service in the utility market, particularly as regulator Ofgem has just introduced regulations that aim to make it simpler to understand tariffs and faster to switch supplier. We’ve written more on the areas for utilities to focus on if they want to engage customers in this Eptica blog http://eptica.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/putting-the-spark-into-energy-customer-service/

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