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My energy supplier is trying to build a relationship with me – what can it do better?

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Electricity and Gas is not very interesting. So how can a supplier really engage with me and make my life and my relationship with them better?

Online billing provides an opportunity for my supplier to engage with me via email for the first time and potentially to engage in a different sort of dialogue. Its first attempt misses an opportunity by not using the customer data it holds on me to make the email relevant – I pay the same amount by secure direct debit each month. Rather it appears on the surface to be a standard email to those new to online billing. It tells me the following:
• I can view my bill any time. (Why would I want to do that? My direct debits are set, based on usage from the last year).
• I can chat to an advisor using live help web chat. (Not sure what I really would need to talk about. If there is an electricity cut I cannot use the internet to contact them and that is something I would like to talk to them about)
• I can make quick and safe payments (I already do, it’s called Direct Debit)
• I can give meter readings at any time (as I am on direct debit the chances are I will do this once a year).

Why does this matter? If the category is intrinsically mundane and holds little interest then the supplier needs to try that bit harder. My supplier is able to monitor my household’s energy behaviour for both electricity and gas. What can it tell me about my usage to my advantage? I had to ask them to repay me for the money it owed me as my Direct Debits were more than my bills. Could it have sent me a letter (or now an email) indicating this discrepancy and recommend I reduce my direct debits? Moving my billing online would allow me to see the disparity more regularly than the twice yearly paper bill but this puts the onus on me, and remember I want to spend my time on more interesting things.
Banking is also rather mundane but we tend to interact with our banking services on a much more regular basis. The opportunity to inform a customer they are about to go overdrawn via their mobile is a perfect example of using technology combined with customer data to mutual advantage. It helps build a relationship for those who regularly go overdrawn. Better still customer data can be used to drive a highly targeted and proactive direct marketing campaign. This makes the bank look responsive and responsible for its customers’ well being.
So, the quick and simple lesson is to use the customer and behavioural data to mutual advantage especially where the category is not one that consumers want to spend time and energy on!!!


Written by petersfuture

February 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm

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