Systems heavyweight broadens its industry footprint.
Christian Hamaker is managing editor of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
With utilities anticipating heavy rate increases in the near future, they can ill afford to alienate their customers. At the very least, they need to equip themselves to face an upsurge in customer queries and billing questions, as ratepayers come to grips with the new reality.
“Utilities are rethinking their customer-care strategies,” says Rob Milstead, director for the energy and utilities practice of consultancy Sapient, in a recent white paper.
They are “seeking the best, fastest path to value, balancing investment costs against potential revenue gain … for both the individual customer and the entire customer base.
According to Milstead, “utilities that think strategically about how to build loyalty and maximize investment will outpace competitors who focus only on operational efficiency.”
The big question, however, is whether to upgrade the old system, or to start fresh with a new one.
On one hand, the cost of replacing existing customer systems can be exorbitant—running between $30 million and $100 million, according to industry experts. That can discourage utilities from making wholesale changes in software or vendor applications.