In today’s fast-paced digital world, we are all constantly connected. Even the smart phone you carry has immeasurable reach, whether it is to specific people, to your work or home email, to your bank account, or even to tell you how late your public transportation is going to be. The modern-day customer wants access to information and extensive communication in all aspects of their lives. This is no different when we look at a utility’s customer base. Although electric utilities provide essential services to their customers, a two-way, continuously connected relationship is becoming more important to manage a reliable and efficient power system, benefiting both the utility and satisfying their customers’ needs.
Generally, customers are accustomed to a one-way relationship with their utility – they consume whatever power they need, when they need it, and they receive a bill at the end of the billing period. This is the traditional way customers think about their utilities (if they do at all). But today, there is significant value for both the customer and the utility in establishing a two-way information exchange.
How do utilities successfully engage and motivate their customers?
Lines of communication between the utility and the customer must be open and educating the customer on the potential benefits that can be drawn from participation in energy initiatives must be promoted. This communication can go both ways:
1) The utility can empower the customer with expanded information and greater control, allowing for informed decision-making based on the impact of how and when they consume energy.
2) Customer information is transmitted to the utility regarding electricity usage and trends, giving the utility an enhanced understanding of their customers’ demand on the grid while also providing end-to-end power system planning and operations.
This improved two-way relationship is advantageous to the utility, the customer, and the overall management of the power system. When utilities engage their customers to actively participate in the power system, it is a win-win for both parties. System efficiencies increase, costs are reduced and customers benefit through increased participation in energy programs and green initiatives.
Why does customer engagement matter?
In today’s real-time, information-based world, both utilities and their customers want more information and insight; however, their individual priorities can differ.
Innovative energy management solutions that engage both parties can bring their individual needs and priorities together, satisfying both the customer and utility and enhancing their relationship. Customer engagement is a guaranteed win that is crucial for today’s transforming electricity industry and for the empowerment of the customer.
Utilities and their customers have already established a relationship. Now is the time to enhance that relationship and take advantage of what two-way communication has to offer. Consider the variety of unique and useful ways that electricity customers can support the modernization of the power system. They can help with renewable integration objectives and can support the end-to-end planning and operation of the grid. Ultimately, customers can provide the information required to help utilities cut costs, improve power system management and maintain a robust and reliable grid.
At the same time, customers also benefit from enhanced engagement by taking part in energy initiatives offered by their utility. Benefits include a potential new revenue stream, lower overall energy costs, additional energy usage data, and a positive impact on the environment and their community. Utilities and their customers only stand to gain from the energy programs offered by two-way, bi-directional communication technology.