That’s the headline news—all those years of talk about customers and pushback and apathy, about leaders and laggards and all those consumers in between—we’ve hit the tipping point, the spot where, yes, the average energy consumer actually wants to have a chat about what you’re doing (as their utility) and what they can do (as your customer) to save themselves money (and, together, help save the world, too).
At least, so says one of the largest consumer-focused association in this industry, the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC).
Now in its 10th year, the SECC releases an annual survey/research report on reports that looks at multi points that pop across their own and other studies for the year. This biggest statement for 2020: This year’s state is apparently very chatty.
“We do all these discrete studies every year, and then, at the end of the year, we see what crossed studies,” Patty Durand, president & CEO, SECC. In this case, those studies included dives into DER, rate design, small and medium business (SMB), and segmentation. If something pulls across studies, then it shows up in that State of Consumer overview piece.
During their DISTRIBUTECH co-located annual symposium, they did a quick overview of the 2020 findings. The major highlights (beyond the chatty a-ha moment) include the importance of segmentation work within your utility; that those customer conversations are supremely important for society in general, not just the consumer individually; that consumer expectations should shape everything a utility plans in parallel to how those same expectations are fully shaping the future overall; and education, education, education—that’s the keyword in all of this that never changes.
Indifference, and the assumption that all customers are basically in that category, still remains a part of the overall customer demographic, of course, but it’s falling—significantly. And those green champions who want sustainability and want to talk about how your utility is helping the world, that segment is a growing (and is now seeping into other groups like those who are tech savvy and those who SECC calls the “movable middle”).
So back to the takeaway at the top: Your customers will be talking to you more and more often about all the details of their energy use. (And Durand showed a utility-specific case study of a newly launched utility engagement program which included an app that saw high consumer adoption and 100 MW in residential demand capacity reduction very quickly.)
“Consumers are really interested in energy. Not only does our research show that, but our gut check shows that, too,” Durand added. “The era of transaction services is over, and the age of the relationship journey is here.”
Got a little FOMO about DistribuTECH? Fear you’re missing out? Then it’s time for you to check out a few of our blogs already up and live from the conference featuring both industry insiders and local utilities, too:
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