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Battle for CI Retention

Decarbonization, decentralization, and digitization are changing the energy landscape. Your C&I accounts may be the first to defect.

We’ve highlighted five key areas utilities need concentrate on to win the battle for C&I loyalty. Learn how digital customer experience can improve client retention, satisfaction, and energy efficiency. 


The Battle To Retain C&I Customers - And How To Win It


The energy landscape is shifting, and your C&I accounts will soon have an abundance of energy options. How will you position your utility for continued success?

Large accounts have the capital, time, and incentive to invest in DERs. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), solar photovoltaic prices declined by 90% between 2009 and 2018. And, between 2015 and 2017, the cost of installing small-scale battery storage systems fell by 60%. In New York, non-residential solar now outpaces home and utility installations. 

New York Web

It's not just rooftop solar either. The Apple Campus in Cupertino now runs on an isolated microgrid, and the tech giant recently announced it has 25 more energy projects currently under construction.

Highlighting the acceleration of these changes, in 2018 ten large C&I companies began efforts to leave Nevada’s utility, more than in the previous five years combined.  

Finally, large accounts are increasingly opting out of energy efficiency programs as well. According to a 2017 MEEA (Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance) report that sited ACEEE, 70-80% of customers with over 1MW of single site load opted out of Indian’s energy efficiency program that year.

Abundant energy choices, the desire for grid independence, and the rate of opt-outs in efficiency programs should concern utilities.  Luckily there are ways to mitigate the risk of C&I defection.


Five Areas Utilities Need To Focus On


Commercial and industrial accounts are demanding more from their energy provider. Many are frustrated by the continuing inability of the market to recognize needs beyond kWh price. To win the battle for C&I loyalty, utilities must focus on five key areas that will improve the customer experience. 


Highlight Value for The Customer

How are you demonstrating that you're invested in the success of your business customers? 

You Should - empower customers to make more informed energy decisions by delivering data, analytics, and visualizations. However, digital energy portals need to be much more than just a dashboard for energy usage. Customers expect their utility to show them the estimated value of taking an action. Capital improvement programs, for example, need to be tied to projected dollar amounts to help managers see the impact of their decisions. The utility needs to demonstrate that they have a stake in the future of the businesses they serve.


Create A Connected Experience

How are you making it easier to purchase additional products or services

You Should - focus on enabling action. For Utility 2.0, helping C&I customers make better energy decisions represents one half of the equation, the other half lies in helping them take action. Provide your C&I customers the ability to browse potential energy solutions, schedule projects, and give feedback.

Utilities need to offer digital marketplaces for products and services that relate directly to the customers unique energy data. As electrification becomes a larger focus, utilities must position themselves as a hub of energy products, recommending relevant programs, solutions, and services based on the unique energy profile of each business they serve.


Commit To A Better Digital Experience

How are you making it easier to be an informed energy consumer

You Should - enable your customers with a suite of modern digital tools. As we’ve argued before, Improving the digital customer experience has to become a priority. Utilities need to provide self-service options through their digital portal, and they need to enhance that experience by adopting technologies that are already common in other industries, like chat bots and hyper-personalization, for example.

A better digital experience means more than just energy analytics. Utilities need to provide a suite of digital tools that are intuitive, informative, and most importantly, tools that customers actually want to use.


Identify the Customers Most at Risk

How are you making it easier for your staff to target at-risk accounts?

You Should - empower key account managers to proactively engage accounts that are a risk for defection. Understanding the consumption profile, density and rooftop size, average daylight hours, and propensity to adopt new energy solutions will help your staff better identify and proactively engage the accounts that are most likely to take their business off-grid. Technology exists today that can help your staff understand all of these factors and pinpoint the accounts that require outreach.

Invest in Energy Thought Leadership

How are you demonstrating that your utility is forward-thinking?

You Should - take an active role in shaping the new dynamic between energy providers and the businesses they serve. Utilities need to position themselves as a stakeholder in the success of their business accounts. To do so, energy providers need to make substantial investments in energy thought leadership, developing ideas that embrace rapid change and offer radical solutions. Proving to your customers that the utility is thinking about the problems of the future is just as important as providing solutions to the problems they face today.