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PUR Guide 2012 Fully Updated Version

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Customer-Care Tipping Point

Channel strategies for the new energy consumer

Consumer preferences for interaction have reached a tipping point and energy providers now have a compelling opportunity to fundamentally re-design the traditional interaction mix. The cornerstone of the redesigned interaction mix is developing a dual customer relationship. Successful providers will be those that drive low-value transactions to lower-cost channels while creating capacity to focus on delivering value-added service for a small set of interactions.

While self-service adoption has increased, many utilities don’t enjoy the high levels of adoption commonly seen in financial services and other industries.

To help energy providers understand the values and preferences that drive consumer behavior, in 2010, Accenture initiated a multi-year global consumer research program to explore consumer values, opinions and priorities related to energy conservation, interaction preferences and beyond-the-meter products and services. The findings of our latest consumer research released in 2012, Actionable Insights for the New Energy Consumer show that there are numerous opportunities for utilities to cost effectively maintain, and even increase, customer satisfaction while achieving cost-to-serve goals.

The exact channel mix may differ depending on channel costs, competitive intensity and mix of products and services offered. However, Accenture believes that about 30 percent of consumer interactions are suited to be higher touch and more personal in nature, while the other 70 percent of transactions can be managed in a low-touch and a relatively low-cost manner. For many providers, this is the reverse ratio to how interactions are managed today.

When it comes to self-service, consumers’ expectations have been set high, based on experiences with other industries.

Driving adoption of self-service is one of the key aspects of redefining the interactions mix. Energy providers are keenly aware that implementing self-service solutions is critical to reducing operational costs and providing increasingly mobile and connected consumers with the tools they want. While self-service adoption has increased, many utilities do not enjoy the high levels of adoption commonly seen in financial services and other industries. The challenge of increasing rates of self-service has come into stark focus in the past years as challenging economic conditions continue to drive emphasis on the bottom-line for utilities that are increasingly challenged to do more-with less. However, consumer interest in self-service has reached a point where for nearly all major interactions, consumers prefer web-enabled channels (see Figure 1).

Transforming Self-Service

The range of expectations for self-service indicate that providers must create an experience that above all else gets the basics right. Consumers report that the most important aspects of self-service are privacy, first time resolution, ease-of use, and technical support available when they need it.

When it comes to self-service, consumers expectations have been set high based on experiences with other industries. While getting the basics right is critical, providing additional value in self-service channels is also important. When considering using self-service, eighty percent of consumers said it is important to provide tools to help understand usage and get tips on reducing their bill (see Figure 2). As energy providers develop effective self-service capabilities it is important to understand and address the full range of consumer expectations.

Creating Valuable Interactions

Reshaping the

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