In liberalized markets, energy retailers compete aggressively for customers — especially those who are likely to use more energy services. What’s the best way to get an edge over the competition? More and more, retailers are choosing to differentiate themselves by offering a more satisfying customer experience. In a new report, the market research firm IDC pulsed 75 executives in Europe and Australia to check in on their progress. How are energy retailers in the world’s most competitive markets approaching customer engagement? What are their goals? Which capabilities are they pursuing first? And critically, how are they using IT to create better experiences, faster? The topline finding is that energy retailers see a big gap between the customer engagement capabilities they have and the ones they need. Almost universally, executives cited the need for new software to keep pace with customer expectations.
IDC asked executives to evaluate 15 different customer engagement capabilities — things like digital transactions, segmentation, and targeted marketing. Across the board, respondents expressed skepticism about their ability to deliver. Fewer than 30% said they were very confident in any of the 15 capabilities, and less than 10% said they were very confident in most. The widest gaps were in the capabilities executives said they need most: customer analytics and cross-channel consistency.
On their own, most customer information systems can’t offer the capabilities retailers need. IDC found that 84% of executives are planning to invest in new customer engagement systems — like business intelligence software, billing and rates engines, and call center tools — within the next three years.
In 2016, the best way to get customers’ attention is by showing them information that’s helpful, relevant, and makes their lives easier. Of course, that's easier said than done. Delivering targeted communications to millions of people requires careful segmentation, smart behavioral design, and above all, powerful data analytics. IDC says executives are ready to make the investment. A full 75% of survey respondents believe data analytics can be a competitive advantage. Marketing, contact center operations, load forecasting, and churn analysis were all cited as important applications.
Leading retailers catch customers’ attention by embedding personalized insights alongside the digital transactions that matter most — like online bill payment.