The J.D. Power 2023 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study is out, and the results are clear; customers want and need more proactive communications from their utility.
According to the report, overall business customer satisfaction with electric utilities has reached an all-time low of 754 (on a 1,000-point scale). JD Power says this is driven by a combination of steadily rising prices and a perceived lack of concern for their needs, support and engagement. Having worked with utilities to serve their large customers, we know this concern exists, but the tools to address it aren’t readily available. Existing homegrown and spreadsheet-based methods of rate and bill analysis make answering difficult customer questions extremely laborious.
This becomes a real issue when serving the largest and most energy intensive businesses in a service territory, a job handled by Key Account Managers (KAMs). KAMs have an important role within utilities, working to develop and nurture relationships with these large business customers. Key accounts are often large and complex, with a wide range of energy and education needs.
One such need is being more proactive in planning for energy needs at the beginning of each year. Traditionally, January 1 brings a combination of energy price changes and company budget cycles (both of which impact large customer accounts). Getting these right matters when these customers are spending millions of dollars each year on energy!
And the key to enabling these conversations is being able to quickly and accurately answer questions about a business’ clean energy and rate options, and the related financial impact. When KAMs have access to a robust set of interval-data enabled, fully validated rate comparisons, cost analysis and what-if scenarios under any customer usage or program scenario, they spend less time accessing systems and crunching numbers and more time assisting their accounts.
We put this approach to the test with a large electric company in the Midwest, which wanted to streamline its yearly planning process. With the help of GridX KAM, the utility was able to search for any customer, up and down its hierarchies, and pull the latest cost and rate analysis at the company level, facility level, or anywhere in between.
In doing so, the company was able to answer what-if questions like:
- “What if I change the number of shifts my employees work?
- What if I modify my hours of operation?
- What if I install private solar?”
- And more…
All these deep insights are then included in a branded report that the KAM proactively shares and discusses with the customer. The result is a thoughtful conversation on the customer’s optimal rate, as well as how operational changes will impact their business financially.
“We know how important it is for electric companies to develop annual reports and to meet with their large customers to answer their questions about energy use, cost, and rate options,” said GridX Senior Project Manager Matt Ross. “Historically, this process has been laborious, leading to a suboptimal experience for everyone involved,” he added.
According to Ross, a dedicated key account management tool helped this Midwest company “easily create reports with personalized insights that help their customers enhance operations and maximize their energy spend. This approach is estimated to have saved approximately 2,000 person-hours of time by doing away with their previous manual process.” It invariably helped the customer optimize its usage and save money as well.
Personalization and proactive outreach make a difference. We can’t necessarily avoid higher energy prices, but we can make a positive impact on customer satisfaction scores when we help large business customers save money with advance notice on potential rate increases and ways to optimize their usage.
You can read the JD Power2023 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study here, complete with graphics. For more information on how GridX can help you improve customer satisfaction through enhanced communications, contact us.