Customer Digital Engagement

By, Craig Palmer

Technology, it’s pervasiveness and the savviness of end users, old and young alike, continues to move at great pace. Moreover, in the energy market, it’s not only the advent of personalized web and mobile application-based interactions to meet advancing customer expectations that drives the need for greater sophisticated customer digital engagement.  It’s also the ever-increasing degrees of energy technology in homes. This includes electric vehicles, micro generation (such as solar) and the explosion of home automation which is a fast-growing driving force empowering consumers and creating new dimensions of interactivity.

While traditional business models will remain the core of market strategies, technology is fast becoming a major factor for customer relations over traditional competition.  This signals the potential for significant market disruption. Furthermore, rapid advances in Cloud-based platforms are enabling companies to go to market with advanced AI and IoT technologies on very low cost, low risk and highly secure platforms.

Digital Technologies 

Compared to 10 years ago and driven by online digital services like Google, Uber and Airbnb, the average consumer has far greater knowledge and grasp of technology.  They also have increased expectations of ease of use, immediacy and control of the services and products they choose to use – all backed by detailed comparisons to competitive offers. Online retailing and production selection are the new norm. This demands more customer centric and personalized interactive services delivering choice over products with provable value and thereby further empowering the customer.

Providing web self-service, mobile applications and social media integration are now standard, minimal channels for conducting business. There are ongoing progressive regulatory, and technology driven changes pushing the technology demands such as smart metering and “Beyond the Meter” connected devices which provide the basis of a much more integrated relationship with the customer. This in turn drives the need for Big Data, analysis and Internet of Things driven processing for marketing, sales, service and process management in a manner that is highly customer centric.

However, it’s the pipeline of fast emerging technologies that were once the holy grail of research programs, that have the potential to deliver value in terms of massive cost reductions and better customer engagement. For example, speech recognition, language translation, AI based data analysis are now mature and being delivered as a service through Cloud platforms. Fully interactive, natural language “chat bots” are now being show-cased with tremendous success and its application to call centers are inevitable. (See Utility Week, The Future of Utilities Report)

Digital technology is changing markets and evolving income streams. Retailing is moving from the High Street to online. Video entertainment is moving from television to YouTube and Netflix. Advertising revenue is moving towards targeted platforms such as Google and Facebook. Similarly, energy supply is evolving enabled by new energy technologies including the smart meter and leveraged by digital technologies.

Craig Palmer is the Technical Architect and Sales Engineer at Hansen Technologies