Transitioning to a sustainable energy future

How information management can help utilities provide a modern digital customer experience

Around the world, energy costs are spiking to record-high prices and aren’t expected to subside anytime soon. In fact, according to the World Bank, the price of energy commodities is expected to be 46 percent higher on average in 2023. The surge in prices is driving a race for energy, and a race to transform how we use it.

At the heart of this race is the utility market. Companies in the utility industry have a unique opportunity not only to improve their digital customer experience—and thereby reduce customer churn—but also to help their customers become more mindful in how they use energy and contribute to a sustainable future. Previously, all customers wanted from their providers was dependable service, clear billing and a good price. These days the bar has been raised and utilities companies need to provide an intuitive, easy-to-use and modern customer experience.

Key customer experience challenges

There are several customer experience challenges facing utilities today, as rising energy prices create additional problems. Prices have reached a level where 15% of U.S. households are behind in their utility payments. This, in turn, creates headaches for utilities in the form of added customer support costs, decreased customer satisfaction and ultimately a growing negative perception of the utility market.

And it doesn’t look like these customer experience challenges will go away anytime soon. It’s expected that electricity consumption will grow rapidly, with every new passenger car sold in the world to be electric by the year 2040. Amidst these challenges, customer experience will play a crucial role in meeting rising customer expectations, educating consumers, improving contact center quality and creating customer loyalty.

The road forward

The customer lifecycle—from attracting, to acquiring, to serving, to delighting and most importantly retaining—is often littered with unstructured information. Compelling customer journeys that achieve retention can be realized with customer experience best practices and modernization. 

For today’s customers, their experiences go beyond just receiving a bill. Helping your customers easily navigate your website, interact with your call centers, benefit from personalized communications and learn best practices in their energy-consuming habits are examples of leveraging unstructured information. Now more than ever, it is imperative that utilities have a digital experience platform to structure this information across the entire customer journey so that they can meet their customers’ needs and play their role in educating customers about how to transition to a sustainable future.

The information management domain and corresponding software technologies can help utilities do their part in creating a sustainable energy future. However, information alone is not the answer. The answer comes when information silos are broken down and unstructured information is organized, secured and integrated into business processes to enable companies to make decisions faster and to support execution. This is the information advantage that will enable the utility market to deliver essential services safely and sustainably to communities.

How utilities can help drive a sustainable energy future

At OpenText™, we support hundreds of utilities companies around the world to help them structure their unstructured information and create a better digital experience.

For example, the Salt River Project is a public utility that supplies power and water to more than a million customers in the greater Phoenix area, while also providing dedicated outreach programs designed to help customers learn how to conserve water. But creating content for these programs proved tedious and time-consuming. Photos, videos and other media assets used in community outreach programs sat in filing cabinets or behind digital barriers, and when producers needed assets for campaigns they would have to submit a written request.

With OpenText™ Media Management and OpenText™ Hightail™, Salt River Project was able to streamline collaboration. The solutions have enabled Salt River Project to reach out more efficiently and more precisely with their messaging and deliver content faster to market.  Media Management proved a robust deployment for the company’s  creative services team while opening opportunities for other departments to utilize it as well. Together, the solutions help users meet the day-to-day demands of operations while acting as editors and producers of high-value content.

The race towards a sustainable energy future requires utilities companies to better meet the needs of their customers and educate consumers on best practices for energy efficiency.

OpenText™ Customer Experience Platform for Utilities offers the tools to meet customer expectations and create digital experiences that help win and retain customers. The solution helps providers differentiate themselves from the competition with personalized and relevant interactions throughout the customer journey while educating subscribers about sustainability and meeting changing regulations for utility compliance.

Learn more about how OpenText is helping its customers become climate innovators.

Phil Schwarz

Phil Schwarz is the Industry Strategist for Energy at OpenText. With two decades of energy industry experience, Phil has become a trusted SME, having supported operators, EPCs, service providers, and OEMs across the entire value chain. Phil is an engineer by education and has a MBA, M.S. in Economics, and a Graduate Certificate in Smart Oilfield Technologies. He resides in the Anchorage, Alaska area and loves to hike and enjoy the outdoors.

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