Demands on established energy companies mean that some are now making a loss from significant segments of their customer base. Incremental cost reduction is no longer sufficient; a step change is required – suppliers need to drive truly transformational efficiency across the enterprise. With a myriad of transformative options often available, the challenge can be where to start, and what to do first.
In our view, the transformation vision should ultimately be grounded in the customer experience – so start with the customer and work back from there. For energy suppliers, common burning questions around the customer experience of the future often come back to enabling digital capabilities. For example, how do you make it easier and faster for customers to interact with you? How do you allow customers to interact with you in their preferred channels, in the way that best suits them at any given time, using multiple devices and channels? Digital capability can also underpin how well your teams can understand and assimilate these interactions in a single unified customer view.
Developing digital capability goes to the heart of the way you do business, and may enable cost leadership by doing things differently:
- Thinking differently: In a digital-first world, challenge your teams and your organisation to rebase from zero their expectations around core process, enabling self-service, stripping out complexity, and considering systems end to end rather than in established silos. For many players, self-serve justifies, and usually necessitates, doing things differently, so assume everything can be digitised, and drive out failure demand at every point.
- Interacting differently: Assume that customers prefer the convenience and control of self service, and leverage automation and artificial intelligence tools to enhance and personalise customer experience while simultaneously transforming your cost base. Consider the evolution of customers’ expectations around how they will engage - messaging and chat are now becoming mainstream service channels, and personal assistants such as Alexa can increasingly give your brand a voice.
- Skilling differently: In the digital first world, skilled Advisors are precious resources –available for the most complex situations, or customers with exceptional circumstances. They will have depth of capability, and breadth, so equip them with AI-enabled knowledge management tools and a unified view of the customer, and support them to be multi-skilled to resolve a wide range of customer enquiries on first point of contact.
Across many industries digital technologies are enabling potential business model changes, driving marginal cost-to-serve for new entrant competitors to near-negligible levels. In this environment it is important to be alert to the forces at work and the potential impact of future technological changes; rather than laying big bets on particular solutions, channels or technologies it may be prudent to manage your digital strategy to preserve some inherent flexibility and agility for the future.
Finally, don’t forget that by going through your own transformation you have a valuable opportunity to involve and engage with your customers. Building empathy by listening to their point of view, observe their interactions in all touchpoints, and engage them in early prototyping and testing. Leveraging digital capability to harness customer input can improve both the overall outcome and customer experience of your transformation programme.