C&I accounts increasingly want their energy providers to deliver a digital experience that offers more than just data around usage. Your largest customers want you to act as a hub for insights, services, and energy options.
C&I Accounts Want An Energy Hub, Not An Energy Vendor
The global energy market is changing from a supply dominated dynamic to a new reality that's much more customer-centric and demand focused. These changes are due in large part to shifts in customer expectations.
After all, expectations are fluid from one industry to another, meaning that your customers increasingly expect their utility to behave less like an energy vendor and more like a technology company that understands their challenges and prescribes solutions tailored to solve them.
In short, consumers have come to expect the same level of service they receive from technology leaders, like Netflix and Amazon for example, in every digital interaction they have. For utilities, that means that providing the bare-minimum digital experience simply won’t be enough.
Data doesn’t matter if you can’t translate it into value for the customer
Some utilities do offer their large accounts digital tools to help them understand usage trends and estimates for basic disaggregation. These tools are an okay start, but large customers are increasingly demanding a much more holistic approach.
At Agents, we’ve conducted numerous voice-of-customer research studies with real C&I consumers to determine what they want from their energy provider. The results may surprise you...
It turns out that most consumers, even at sophisticated C&I accounts, don’t want complex data analytics, per se, if those numbers are devoid of insights that can make an impact on their business.
Customers want much more than just energy charts or usage graphs. They want digital platforms to act as a hub of energy insights, putting data into context that makes critical business decision easier. These customers want to better understand what their energy options are and how those choices could affect them now and in the future.
Below are a few key benefits that your C&I accounts expect their energy provider to deliver via a modern digital experience.
Explain Energy Impacts
Utilities need to highlight the insights hidden in energy usage trends, and help customers predict how changes to usage could affect their bill. From a practical standpoint that means providing a few things.
Insights Around Usage
Before and after comparisons - customers want the ability to tag energy events, such as facility expansions, or lighting upgrades, for example. Allowing them to easily compare per and post implementation changes.
Better disaggregation - C&I accounts also expect more accurate breakdowns of their plug load. Remote, software based disaggregation alone isn't enough. Software-based disaggregation has high error rates. A study by SBW consulting found that software-based approaches to disaggregation had error rates between 40-50% for clothes dryers and 30-80% for refrigerators, for example.
The utility needs to augment that data with the information derived from on on-site audits, call center interactions, and customer surveys.
Comparison to self and peers - Utilities need to enable comparisons based on both a customer's own historic usage and based on their usage compared to their peers. Providing these reference points helps put information into context and enables managers better understand where they can improve.
Multi-account ranking - Finally, your customers want to rank historic site performance for their multi-account portfolios. Enabling chain locations, for example, to create detailed reports that show how well each location manages energy compared to one other.
Insights Around Changes
Rate code and time-of-use - Your largest accounts will likely also want the ability to model and compare possible changes to their energy profile. For example, the ability to experiment with rate code and time-of-use changes to see how those adjustments could affect their bill.
Capital improvement projects - Likewise, your digital energy platform should deliver estimates for savings due to capital improvement projects. Showing a building engineer how much she can save on her next bill by upgrading lighting is a powerful way to build loyalty at large accounts and a feature that we've heard C&I facility managers request many times before.
Demonstrate Energy Options
Utilities also need to provide energy options to their large commercial and industrial customers. Consumers want the utility to act as a hub of information about energy mix, energy products, and energy services that can make an impact on their business.
Fuel type and carbon - Many C&I accounts are already demanding that their digital energy platform show the fuel mix for the energy they are consuming, and as corporate sustainability goals become more prevalent, many more will request the ability to translate sustainability savings into carbon reductions using 8760 conversions.
Energy Products and Services
As the energy landscape becomes more customer centric there will be increased opportunities for utilities to up-sell products related to capital improvements, storage, and electrification.
DERs and electrification - C&I customers have the time, capital, and incentive to look into major initiatives like electric car fleets and associated charging stations. It's not a stretch to imagine then, that these accounts also want the ability to browse for and compare these products.
Energy audits and retrofits - Finally, large C&I accounts expect their energy provider to deliver suggestions for services, and enable customers to book, complete, and review jobs.
Utilities should offer digital services marketplaces, similar to those already offered for physical products, to help their large accounts complete capital improvement projects or on-site energy audits.
A Better Energy Experience
C&I accounts have high expectations for their energy providers based on the digital experience they receive from other vendors in adjacent industries. As a result, utilities will need to do more to offer a connected, personalized, and valuable digital customer experience to their largest customers.