The Mantras of a Consumer-centric Energy Service Provider

by Marie Bahl McKenna, Tendril

In an article that appeared in the June 2014 issue of Electric Light & Power, I talked about the need to move to an energy as a service model. Why? Well, the energy industry is undergoing a significant transformation.

Nontraditional providers are entering the space, distributed generation is becoming increasingly popular, and regulators are developing compelling initiatives such as the New York Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) effort.

In accordance with these trends, some providers have started to adopt a services mentality by treating consumers as individuals and using data to target and personalize interactions better.

Yet despite the industry’s fundamental strides, there is still work to be done. Energy service providers (ESPs) must put consumers at the center of everything they do. It’s one thing to say it and another to implement this approach. Therefore, any consumer-centric energy provider should follow these mantras:

“You are a consumer goods company with an active storefront.” We all tend to associate storefronts with retail companies that offer clothes, electronics and the like. But you, as an energy provider, are no different.

Within this new consumer-centric services model, your business will become a storefront designed to offer tailored energy efficiency programs, as well as other product and service offerings, like solar panels and EV charging infrastructure to name a couple.

“You will recognize each customer as an individual with unique traits and characteristics.” To be a 21st-century ESP, you must move beyond viewing consumers as ratepayers and treat them as individuals with unique attributes and needs. The key here is data. Data is essential to the energy industry’s becoming more services-oriented, and to have an active and thriving storefront, you must leverage tools that will give you the ability to use that data wisely. Understanding a customer’s unique characteristics, habits and propensity to act is critical to offering the right programs and offers for products and services that will drive increased customer satisfaction and potential new revenue streams for your business.

“You will be mindful of your connection to the consumer.” Maintaining your link to customers is critical. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t partner with technology and service professionals to design the best possible engagement platform. But you must maintain that connection to customers. It’s your data, your understanding of the individual; you should own it and leverage the best tools to create optimal services.

Becoming a consumer-centric ESP requires a strategic plan, a set of tools to help achieve your goals and a mindset that is different than the one we’ve subscribed to for 100 years. And let’s be honest; change is not easy. Adopting these mantras, however, will prove invaluable as you take the steps down this energy-as-a-service path.

Author

Marie Bahl McKenna is senior vice president of sales and marketing at Tendril where she is responsible for defining Tendril’s go-to-market strategies for its Energy Services Management (ESM) solutions. Reach her at mbahl@tendrilinc.com.

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