Squeezed by falling profits and strong competition, energy providers are struggling to deliver the digital services that consumers want, according to new research.
In its annual new energy study, Accenture said energy utilities are finding it a challenge to meet consumers’ digital expectations and keep up with standards set in other industries such as banking.
While digital customer experiences are essential, one-third of energy consumers responding to the research survey said their provider’s digital channels such as websites and mobile applications could not meet their online requests and they had to contact a live agent.
Almost half of the respondents (48 per cent) had trouble finding information on energy providers’ websites over the past 12 months, a further 34 per cent said the sites took too long to load, lacked needed information (34 per cent), and were not personalised (31 per cent).
“These shortfalls are significant to note as energy providers are under more pressure than ever to rotate to toward new, integrated end-consumer solutions and rapidly launch new products and digital services,” said Charlie Richardson, managing director who leads Accenture’s Energy Retail and Customer Services practice.
“The key to catching up is for energy providers to revamp their operating models to keenly focus on consumers who are increasingly using digital channels, services, and platforms. Providers need to move quickly to shift from decades of long planning cycles and rigid processes to quickly create a new culture that reshapes and delivers personalised customer experiences, before agile competitors who are ahead in the digital game get there first,” he said.
However, Accenture believes that energy providers are still more trusted by consumers than non-traditional competitors that are expanding in the industry. Alternative providers such as manufactures or home service providers are now seen by half of consumers, as equally well positioned to help them understand and optimise energy consumption.
These competitors are mindful of consumers who use digital channels and are more willing to sign up for new services, Accenture said. Almost one-third (29 per cent) of consumers who regularly use digital channels said they would be willing to pay for a connected home bundled service. This is one that that manages lighting, smart thermostats, entertainment, and security systems.
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