In a rapidly changing environment, it is challenging for the energy suppliers to keep up with time and digitalize their services. Globally, the epidemic of COVID-19 triggered utility companies to adapt to the global digital transformation, adjust their current business models and communication with customers to go online. Today’s customers expect to have more independence and access to more information about the services suppliers provide to them. Customers’ behaviour is swiftly evolving towards an overall preference for digital access and digital communication channels. The option to fill in an application form or change the tariff online is increasingly preferred to contacting call centers and wait on the phone line. The two main factors that seem to determine the customers’ choice for a service provider are the convenience of changing energy provider online, as well as greater transparency about the prices offered.
Many energy suppliers can still count on customer loyalty, but competition with new entrants is growing at a remarkable speed. Improved technologies and processes result in the ability for the consumer to change their energy supplier extremely quickly and easily. Therefore, it is essential for the already established companies to adapt to the current customer needs and respond to them as soon as possible. A great opportunity for start-ups is to promptly enter the market with a completely new model and thus attract new customers.
Energy suppliers need to evaluate their current business models to keep up with modern customer needs.
“Implementing a customer switching portal into the supplier’s website enables customers to effortlessly receive a quote from their new supplier at any time.”
The energy switching portal is a functional solution that offers a quick and easy process for attracting new business, and residential customers. This allows energy suppliers to optimize their customer service center costs by interacting with customers predominantly online. In a few simple steps, users can fill-in a short form with information about their monthly consumption or attach an invoice from the current provider, on this basis of which a quote is generated. Also, they can get information about estimated bills and compare the prices of other energy suppliers. Additional functionality is the statistics about how much will be the savings if the customer switches to a new supplier. This inevitably leads to transparency and increases trust in companies. Another great convenience for both supplier and customer is that the information customer has entered to receive a quote is also used in creating a contract. This significantly optimizes the time for an end customer to receive the new service.
“Energy suppliers who attract customers through brokers or sales representatives can optimize quotation and contract processes by integrating specialized software to manage potential customer input and take advantage of automatic quote generation.”
The broker portal covers the interaction and data exchange between the supplier, the broker and the client in one complete platform. The functional broker portal contains different information based on the different user roles according to their hierarchy and responsibilities. On the one hand, energy sales managers are able to create tasks for their brokers, report on commissions, and receive and send requests to brokers. On the other hand, brokers are able to monitor their deals and commissions, filter them according to pre-defined criteria, such as
time period, stage of the deal, etc. The portal also includes fields where brokers enter the required customer data so that the quotation process is fully automated. In cases when a customer has one or more meter points a multi-quote should be created based on annual consumption, contract duration, etc. criteria. This allows suppliers and brokers to quote with a flexible pricing model tailored to the individual profile of the client. In this type of unified database it is easy to monitor the process from quote to contract. Based on the information from the client’s profile and quote, upon confirmation by the client, a contract is generated and sent automatically via email.
Key functionality is the integration with external databases in order to verify the entered information. In this way, suppliers can be sure that the information provided by the client in the form on the website or by the broker in the broker portal is correct.
In the dynamic world we live in, it is especially important for consumers to optimize the time they spend in obtaining a certain service. When opting for a new energy supplier, it is important for residential users and business customers to be able to find information about the potential new vendor, get familiar with the tariffs and receive a quote in a timely fashion. The key to customers’ choice is the possibility to compare what the difference will be in the price they have been paying so far for a service and how much they will save had they switched to another provider. Implementation of new technologies for automation and optimization of customer acquisition processes gives the energy suppliers the ability to offer transparent and personalized offers to potential customers.