Breaking down silos to achieve a more enabled workforce and more informed stakeholders.
Operations are finally getting together with IT. As a result, utilities will be able to achieve a range of business goals&emdash;and serve customers better.
Mastering multi-channel communications for customer service success.
Utilities across the country are experimenting with various new ways to communicate with customers—from Twitter feeds to text alerts. But few utilities have figured out how to integrate new media channels into a coherent customer engagement approach. A multi-tiered strategy will best serve the needs of customers—and the utility.
Can a disruptive technology change the electric customer experience?
North American energy utilities are investing billions to create a smart grid to enhance service for retail electric customers. The smart grid, a disruptive technology, will provide utilities and customers with access to information about how electricity is used that they’ve never had in the past. More importantly this information can empower customers to take ownership of their consumption profile and demand different products and services.
Performance measurement and action steps for smart grid investments.
Regulators and customers are holding utilities’ feet to the fire, when it comes to investing in advanced metering and smart grid systems—and rightly so. Making the most of investments requires a systematic approach to establishing standards and monitoring performance. But it also requires policy frameworks and cost recovery regimes that provide the right incentives.
Providing reasonable options for customers who object to smart meters.
Stephen Hadden, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC)
Customers in some markets are demanding the right to opt out of smart meter deployments. Their concerns involve radio frequency (RF) emissions and potential privacy breaches. Whether these concerns are valid or not, some regulators are requiring options for customers who don’t want smart meters. The right approach can satisfy concerns without undue costs and complexities.
SMS offers an alternative to paper billing. Smart Meters Driving Adoption Customer Engagement Supporting the Payment Process Learning from Europe
Text messaging promises benefits in customer service and bill-payment efficiencies. Utilities have been slow to take up the opportunities, but successes in other industries and among European utilities is opening the door to SMS transactions for American power companies.
Smart meters open the door to advance billing.
Investor-owned utility executives have long understood the benefits of prepaid metering, but technical and regulatory roadblocks have prevented wide-scale implementation. Now, however, two IOUs—Arizona Public Service and DTE—are planning prepaid metering programs that could be offered to all customers. Smart metering technology might pave the way for prepaid to become a standard service.
Customers demand real choices for bill payment.
In the world of utility bill payments, few issues have generated more controversy than the use of credit, debit and pre-paid cards. Generally, regulated utilities have been unable to build a compelling business case to offer no-fee card payments to customers, preferring instead to partner with third-party processors (TPPs) who happily charge convenience fees to card users.
Web technologies are transforming the utility-customer relationship.
Thanks to the Internet, consumers expect 21st century companies to bring a sophisticated online presence. Utilities that leverage the interactive power of Web 2.0 will strengthen their positions in regulatory and competitive arenas.
Market forces are transforming the IOU business model.
As market forces transform the IOU business model, Apple’s iPhone provides a metaphor and possible example for the industry to follow. The iUtility will emerge as companies renegotiate the regulatory compact and reinterpret the traditional rate formula.