Google, Comcast threaten utility business
Americans are now more than ever looking at alternate ways of acquiring their energy. Almost 30 percent of Americans would leave their utility if they could and 64 percent of those would choose a non-utility alternative like Google, Comcast or SolarCity. That is according to research from the Shelton Group.
These numbers represent a seismic shift of the energy landscape and utilities’ ability to adopt smart, proactive strategies to engage their customers will mean their survival or failure.
“Utilities can no longer assume that they ‘own’ the residential energy space, especially with Millennials and minorities,” said Suzanne Shelton, president of the Shelton Group. “The threat is not that these customers particularly dislike their utilities, it’s that they’re not at all loyal to them and are very comfortable with the idea of shopping around for other alternatives.”
But utilities don’t have to sit idly by watching the Google’s and Comcast’s of the world take over their business. What utilities can do is work on building better customer relationships. Specifically, providing attractive packages that bundle home energy control options and make energy efficiency automatic to position themselves strategically in a changing marketplace.
The numbers in the study reflect that consumers want the providers they deal with — from manufacturers and builders to utilities — to make energy efficiency a no-brainer for them. In fact, 71 percent of respondents want to buy already-efficient homes and 58 percent want to live in already-efficient apartments. The propensity for customers to make energy-efficient improvements themselves is actually down.
“A lot of utilities focus on improving their customer satisfaction scores, but the business problem they need to address is loyalty,” said Shelton. “If utilities shift their focus to creating loyalty through engagement and personalization, customer satisfaction scores take care of themselves.”
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