Industry Disruption-Prioritize Customers' Needs

A more consumer-centric approach is critical if utilities want to prosper.
Published: Tue 03 Jun 2014

Now more than ever, retail electricity providers and regulated utilities must focus on their customers’ needs. Disruption in the electricity industry is causing retail electricity providers to expand their portfolios of products and services. Regulated utilities are facing immense competition as off-grid solutions are introduced to the market. It is for this reason that more focus should be placed on the customers’ needs.

Improving the fundamentals of service

To avoid being elbowed out of the industry, more focus should be placed on customer service. A good example of this is TXU Energy. The company’s Chief Operating Officer, Scott Hudson, says that TXU Energy is highly focused on improving the fundamentals of service.

He explains, “While we're developing innovative plans and products to meet consumers' needs and preferences, we're also investing in how we serve our customers."

With all the decisions that the utility makes, the customer is its main focus. In addition to the company's long-standing customer listening sessions for executives and other leaders, TXU Energy has a strong social media response program, and engages with consumers across a wide variety of media outlets, as well as through its own ratings and reviews program.

For example, customers told the company that they wanted a faster and more intuitive self-service through the 24/7 telephone system. Basically, the customer wanted to reach a consultant in a much faster way was asking for less steps to reach a consultant when they need assistance," Hudson said. "We listened, and have delivered the industry's most advanced interactive voice recognition system.

Keeping promises

In 2014, TXU Energy began a project to evaluate every step at which consumers interact with the company -- from the customers' perspective -- to find even more opportunities for constant improvement. TXU Energy has been really good at providing their customers with a variety of technologies and plans to choose from when it comes to managing their energy. Since not every customer and their needs are the same, this approach has seen a great deal of customer satisfaction.

"While we have delivered a series of first-to-market innovations, including our two-way Brighten iThermostat, our Solar Lease program, time-of-use plans for business customers, and the first mobile apps and website in the competitive market," Hudson said, "we're equally proud of the work we do to keep our promises to customers."

Customer satisfaction rates are at an all-time high at TXU Energy, and the company has been consistently rated above all other major retailers on the Public Utility Commission of Texas' complaint scorecard.

Further reading

Accenture-The New Energy Consumer Handbook [pdf]