Smart retailers create powerful CRM platforms to differentiate themselves, capture customers and reduce churn.

By Rebecca Guise

The secret is speed.

As retail energy markets become more and more competitive, the suppliers who stay on top of acquisition and churn are those who continually deliver on the value promised to customers:

  • Choice – In competitive markets, customers expect to be able to easily compare options based on their preferences, and convert without friction once they decide.
  • Connection – The beauty of competitive markets is that customers can choose more diverse and innovative energy solutions that satisfy their unique preferences.
  • Control – We promise customers that retail competition gives them more ability to manage their energy costs.

Consumers will respond to value, if retailers can spin up those packages fast enough, with enough personalization. Strategic investment in extending existing CIS platforms can give retailers the flexibility and competitive edge to deliver on these promises and increase customer value for the long term.

Choice. In the U.S., switching is led by C&I customers, the majority of whom are going to non-utility supply to meet their complex portfolio and margin requirements.

(Source: RESA and DNV-GL Research, 2019, on RESA site)

With a few boosts to their CRM, retailers can be smarter about capturing that C&I business, as well as offer more personalized options to residential customers.

  • A super-charged CRM has an integration layer with connectors – integrations and APIs – to data from many separate sources, with multiple levels of access and validity (consumption data, billing history, time-valued commodity prices, locational resources, etc.).
  • The platform’s application layer can then collect and analyze customer input on their optimal requirements (cost boundaries, reliability, usage patterns and preferences).
  • The application layer can also support a dynamic and varied product catalog of offerings (beyond the basic commodity to include demand response signals, reliable medical baseline services, EV incentives, energy management hardware, etc.).
  • Finally, in a sophisticated quote to contract process, the platform’s application layer can rapidly analyze and produce tailored offerings that match customer requirements and optimize their goals.

Connection. Once a retailer makes that personal connection with a customer, it’s time to keep nurturing engagement and securing renewals. Retailers can now spend less time chasing customers and more time innovating products and services that match customer desires. And, with integrations and applications in place, retailers can dynamically adjust offerings as they monitor customer preferences.

Connection relies on being able to anticipate and be responsive to customer needs, on any service channel. The role of service agents – from door-knockers in the field to phone centers – cannot be underestimated. Enhanced CRMs the ability to augment agent insights and give customers more personal, knowledgeable experiences that seal customer loyalty and reduce churn.

Source: Evercore Group LLC, 2019 and Salesforce Research, 3rd edition, “State of Service”

Control. One way to make good on the promise of lower energy bills is to give customers always-on transparency and access to their account and usage information. On the other side, push notifications, timely personalized incentives, high usage alerts and other touches can make the retailer a welcome partner. 

In all these areas, speed makes the difference. The fastest way to deliver the choice, connection and control described here is to design and orchestrate optimal integration tools and an application layer between siloed data (from legacy customer systems) and an array of new digital customer experience applications.

Source: Vlocity, Inc.

The ability to do this complex analysis is possible today. In the U.K., where utilities must be able to support fast switching and access and manipulate data from massive, regulated third party customer datasets, a Vlocity customer designed a super-charged CRM on Salesforce to generate a complex C&I quote within 3 hours – what used to take 3 days of research and approvals. Other retail energy suppliers around the globe are using smart integration strategies to expand their ability to deploy modern digital engagement channels. The results: their agents are smarter about tailoring the right offers at the right moments, their customers have more tools to manage their terms of service, and retailer and customer are working in closer partnership and in real time.

Retail suppliers live and die on their ability to stay on top of energy demand. The data and the insights are available today. A smarter, more powerful customer experience platform is key to being able to convert all that data into lasting customer value.

For more case studies and information about these strategies, listen to my EMC Virtual Seminar, and come see us in Houston.

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Rebecca Guise is Regional Vice President, Vlocity Energy & Utilities