It’s a cliché these days to say that the energy industry is experiencing a paradigm shift, so I won’t belabor the point. But I do want to share two essential pieces of advice that utilities need to consider if they’re going to succeed in this unfamiliar environment:

  • Listen to your customers
  • Act on what you hear
Stock illustration of sliced bread, with one slice smiling, walking, and waving

I like this quote as a reminder of why these two ideas are so important (especially considering the source): “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology—not the other way around.” —Steve Jobs

There’s no simpler way to learn about the experience we’re delivering to our customers than to ask them. Tweet: There’s no simpler way to learn about the experience we’re delivering to our customers than to ask them. @e_source this!

Now, you’re probably thinking, “We do an annual customer survey. We listen. We have this covered.” No you don’t. Once-a-year surveys aren’t enough anymore. According to customer relationship strategy and measurement expert James Barnes in his book Secrets of Customer Relationship Management: It’s All About How You Make Them Feel, a typical business hears from only 4 percent of its dissatisfied customers. The other 96 percent leave—91 percent for good.

To help us listen in new and better ways, I believe that enterprise feedback management (EFM) really is the best thing since sliced bread. EFM represents the logical—but for so many of us long-elusive—progression in how we understand and improve customer experience. With the right EFM strategy, you’ll get:

  • All your customer (and employee) feedback in one repository
  • The ability to conduct analysis that combines multiple research inputs into a single perspective
  • Quick visibility into what needs to change in real time to improve the customer experience

EFM represents a fairly radical notion for the utility industry because it’s all about creating a dialogue between you and your customers. In one-on-one conversations, you’ll find out what your customers like and don’t like. When customers feel listened to, they’re more likely to become loyal advocates and participate in more of your programs.

Previously the exclusive domain of Fortune 500 companies, EFM solutions are finally to the point where utilities of all sizes can now include them in their daily operations. And they can develop sophisticated voice-of-the-customer, voice-of-the-employee, and market research programs through a single platform.

But remember what Steve Jobs said, and avoid getting awed by the whiz-bang technology side of EFM. Your EFM efforts will fail if you don’t first have a solid strategy in place about what you want to achieve. To (kinda) paraphrase that famous James Carville slogan, it’s not about the technology, stupid. Nor is EFM the exclusive domain of your market research folks. Brand champions, HR teams, and operational call center managers responsible for employee engagement can all find real value in EFM.

If EFM sounds like what you’re looking for, check out my recently published e-book Building Your Utility’s Voice-of-the-Customer Program in 6 Steps. And, join us on Thursday, November 17, at 2:00 p.m. EDT for our web conference Become a Customer-Focused Organization: Real-World Examples featuring an in-depth discussion with E Source customer experience expert Maureen Russolo and our partner Qualtrics about becoming a customer-focused organization. Register today!

If you want additional information or just want to chat more about EFM, leave a comment below or send us an email!