The Utilities sector has shown the worst results in this year’s ranking, scoring 3-6% below the market average in all CX pillars. The customers are annoyed by the industry’s aggressive sales practices, door-to-door salesmen pretending to represent different companies, and efforts to prevent the customer from switching to another supplier at any cost.
But there is a light at the end of a tunnel, with several points to support this hope for this hope. First, the sector has improved in all metrics compared to 2017, with Innogy and ČEZ leaping up by 41 and 33 places in the total ranking, respectively, and with a newcomer, MND, coming in 43rd and taking the gold in the sector. These three companies now represent the industry in the top 100, when just last year, not a single company from this sector did well enough to get there.
The above-mentioned positive trend shows that utilities providers, big and small, are starting to pay more attention to customer experience. Their market is highly competitive, and it is quite hard to come up with a stellar, unique product when the commodity you are selling is perceived as a “necessary evil” in the first place, unlike, say, a pair of new shoes.
The only thing left to do is to stand out in the customer experience field and we can already see this trend in the form of more flexible, understandable, and clearly written contracts.
Contract flexibility and a fair approach is what the MND company has focused on from the very beginning, too, and their placement in the ranking clearly shows that it was the right decision. Together with other companies, they also reduce obstacles and sanctions for customers who would like to change the terms of service, or switch to a different provider. Some also try to be more than just a gas or electricity supplier and take on the role of a consultant, helping clients to save money, providing advice on how to get subsidies, how to buy a new boiler, etc. Since these companies usually interact with the customers just once a year, when sending out the statement of advances and arrears, consultancy gives them a great opportunity to develop a better relationship with them.
The fact that most customers interact with their gas or electricity supplier much less than with the supermarket around the corner is probably the main cause of the sector’s poor results mentioned earlier. The changes in the sector are somewhat slow, so when a positive change happens in the company, the customers will often see improvement a year later, and the company will have to wait another year for the customer’s overall, long-term experience to improve.
Local companies could learn from Florida Power & Light (FPL), an American electricity supplier who was the only utilities company to make it into the top half of the top 100 both in the USA and the United Kingdom. In the sector, the company stands out due to a high level of Integrity and Empathy, providing simple, easily accessible information and explaining the benefits of smart measuring devices to their customers (lower consumption and, therefore, more money saved). They are also good at managing customer expectations. Respectively, customers commend the company for being the best at dealing with outages despite operating in an area that is often affected by bad weather, mostly hurricanes and floods.
“I needed a new electricity contract, so I filled out the contract online. Afterwards, the company contacted me and explained what other documents and information they would need from me very clearly. We agreed that I would contact them myself as soon as I had the necessary information, and I did, although it took about 6 weeks. Nevertheless, the company stood by their word and patiently waited for me to reach out.” (MND)
“Very helpful, friendly attitude, no arrogance, and willingness to discuss and negotiate anything, including personalized prices.” (Innogy)
“I have been with ČEZ since 1970 and I have never had any issues. I never had a single negative experience, on the contrary – the company always reaches out to offer better conditions, which I appreciate a lot, being a pensioner.” (ČEZ)