Today’s tech giants have reshaped customer expectations forever. Companies like Amazon, Google and Apple have showcased that technology can reinvent customer experience, consistently delivering relevance and value throughout the customer journey. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this process, with customers increasingly becoming familiar with a digital first experience – able to interact with their favourite brands via their devices and channels of choices.
These new expectations are not restricted to the tech sector. Wherever customers interact and buy services from a business, they will expect a flexible, digital-first experience. One such sector is energy. In our recent whitepaper, we studied the end-user perceptions and expectations of the digital channels offered by seven top UK energy suppliers.
Each one was weighted according to user evaluation results:
- User Experience
The results painted a varied picture. The maturity levels for energy suppliers are very different. Some companies are very advanced and have developed their own digital solutions, whilst others are only at the beginning of the digital journey. Whatever the supplier’s progress, every energy supplier will need to raise their digital transformation ambitions to match the speed of transformation that other areas of the energy market are experiencing.
Digital opportunities in Energy
When reviewing the findings, it was striking to see that energy suppliers still lack many functionalities in their digital channels. A new generation of customers will be demanding and consider digital channels as part of their decision making when choosing their energy provider.
When we consider the energy sector, all the required elements to embrace digital transformation are there. In today’s market, no business can create a credible strategy without including technology. Energy suppliers’ financial reports are full of long overviews of the benefits associated with having digitalised operations.
Organisations that fully embrace the digital transformation agenda have a significant opportunity to stand out from their competitors and attract new customers hungry for digital-first experiences with their energy supplier. The use of virtual assistants like Alexa or Siri has opened a wide range of opportunities; imagine asking Alexa to let you know how much of your energy budget you have used or how much energy you will be consuming next month.
Looking further ahead, as technologies like virtual and augmented reality reach maturity, they will play a key role in the sector. The scope for reinvention is almost endless: think of a world where you could use your phone camera to see live consumption of your appliances.
A way forward to digital transformation success
To make this future a reality, energy suppliers need to build a realistic roadmap for digital transformation. Businesses need to put data and digital experience at the heart of these plans, designing everything with the customer in mind.
The mixed findings of NTT DATA’s research should not be a reason for inaction from energy suppliers. Quite the opposite. Energy suppliers should use these insights to plan a new way forward and embrace digital transformation.
Here are five key steps for energy suppliers to address the findings of the report:
- Brand consistency - All experiences (desktop/mobile app) should be aligned with key visual communication points, usually set out in brand guidelines, in order to provide an overall positive customer experience.
- Competitor UX Benchmark – Energy suppliers should take a deep-dive into the contrasting experiences of functionality across customer sentiment when using websites and apps. This understanding can then be used to shape possible recommendations and solutions.
- UX Review – Undertake a full review of all Desktops and Mobile App experiences to document AS-IS/TO-BE journeys and personas. This will enable firms to provide new visuals in line with market trends and branding.
- Open channels and platforms - These will allow users to share feedback, build trust, and send a clear message to customers that user sentiment is important to the business and contributes towards continuous improvement of service delivery.
- Metrics and Analytics – Put these in place to monitor usage in order to create and understand popular and unpopular areas, allowing for further optimisation.
A more connected energy sector
Tapping into data and digital experiences allows firms to more closely connect with customer needs, and create bespoke and personalised customer journeys. There are a host of options for energy suppliers to use mobile and other devices to give customers unprecedented visibility over their energy use. This transparency, enabled by technology, is a vital step in maintaining trust and engagement with customers – of particular importance during today’s challenging energy market.
By embracing digital transformation, energy suppliers have the opportunity to build a better and more connected energy sector.
To explore the report in more detail and discuss how energy suppliers can embrace digital transformation, we would be happy to set up a collaborative workshop with subject matter experts from NTT DATA.