According to the EY report, Navigating the Energy Transition Consumer Survey, a perfect storm of government policy, consumer trends and technology is accelerating the energy transition. And while much of the discussion centres around renewables and infrastructure, it mostly overlooks the customer.
EY says a new generation of energy consumer is looking for options that provide transparency, flexibility and control — now is the time for energy providers to get creative.
Greg Guthridge, EY global power & utilities customer experience transformation leader, says energy providers are grappling with multiple challenges but meeting rapidly changing customer expectations may be the toughest yet.
“We believe that an enterprise-wide focus on transforming the customer experience – driven by the workforce, powered by consumer insights and supported by digital technology – is the winning strategy. This means harnessing agile ways of working and creating a culture to constantly improve, innovate and put people first,” she continued.
The survey reveals that consumers show significant interest in adopting new energy products and services when the benefits are aligned around three core areas: saving money, saving time, saving the planet.
While cost (53%) remains the most critical factor in driving purchase decisions for current adopters, impact on the environment (47%) and making life easier (34%) are also important.
These factors are even more important for consumers considering purchases in the next three years with cost being critical to 67% of respondents, environment to 51% and convenience to 36%.
“While consumers have turned their attention to sustainability, one size does not fit all. The messages and solutions from energy providers will require insights and tailored approaches aligned to the deeper motivations for each individual customer,” opined Guthridge.
Digital by default
The survey found that consumers prefer digital for 8 out of 10 primary interactions with their energy provider, but still want the human touch when making a complaint, managing an outage or emergency, or facing an issue with digital channels.
However, 62% have experienced a problem using their energy provider’s digital service and 37% are not confident in their energy providers’ digital services, a figure which increases to 50% for Gen Z.
Guthridge says, “Consumers have created a new interaction paradigm that can be summed up as ‘technology when you want it, a person when you don’t’. So, while digital enablement is clearly a critical focus area for energy providers, the seamless integration with human interaction is also part of the future engagement mix.”
Consumers are increasingly aware of sustainability issues and are holding energy providers to a high standard. Sixty-four per cent say getting sustainable products and services “right” is critical, 36% are willing to pay more for them, but only 54% say they are satisfied with those currently offered.
When asked what energy providers need to do to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, expectations include providing new energy products and services (52%), supporting local sustainability programs (50%), offering green energy solutions (50%) and operating a green fleet (27%).
Guthridge says, “By demonstrating their commitment to sustainability, energy providers can align corporate purpose, brand promise, offerings and operations to truly differentiate with increasingly green consumers.”