AUTHOR:Gavin Bade @GavinBade PUBLISHED June 28, 2017
More and more, utilities are realizing they’re in the customer service business.
It wasn’t always that way. Power companies used to refer to the individuals on the other side of the meter as “ratepayers” or even just “load.”
But as the digital economy increases choices in all industries, power customers are demanding the same of their electric utilities. While many are still content with a default power service package, increasing numbers want additional options to make their electricity consumption cleaner and more affordable.
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The shift represents both an opportunity and problem for utilities. If they do nothing, customers could look to alternative service providers, like rooftop solar and community aggregators, leading to load defection and decreased utility revenues. And as more corporations embrace sustainability targets, they may opt for direct contracts with alternative energy suppliers, bypassing utility service.
But if power companies act, they can use these new customer desires to strengthen their relationships. Partnerships with third party vendors can provide customers with efficiency upgrades, smart devices and distributed generation, allowing utilities to use the behind-the-meter resources for grid services. And in some states, regulators are building in performance-based incentives that allow extra revenue earning if utilities meet customer engagement goals.
How can utilities navigate this new world of customer service? That’s what we endeavor to answer in this Spotlight, highlighting best practices and emerging ideas for customer engagement in the power sector.
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