Creating customer-centric products, services, and experiences and a framework for cultural change

Utilities are expressing a desire to become more innovative, yet they often lack the tools and processes to make such a large cultural change. Design thinking can provide the initial structure and framework for creating a customer-centric utility.

Developing the customer portfolio of the future

E Design 2020 was a three-year, collaborative project designed that helped utilities rethink, revitalize, and reimagine the portfolio of products, services, and customer experiences offered to the new energy consumer. Using best practices from outside industries, E Design 2020 helped utilities embrace a truly customer-centric approach to creating solutions.

E Design 2020 focused on:

  • Creating new ways to add value and generate revenue
  • Establishing new experiences in customer engagement, demand-side management program participation, or smart meter portal applications
  • Creating effective, attractive solar and distributed energy resource (DER) offerings for all customers
  • Designing new services for connected homes and businesses
  • Meeting the evolving needs of low-income customers

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Year 1. Research and design thinking

In the first year, E Design 2020 focused on gaining deep knowledge of latent customer needs, analyzing the market, demonstrating how to apply design-thinking approaches, and developing a wide variety of new product, service, and customer experience concepts.

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Year 2. Product testing, prototyping, and piloting

In the second year, we moved into iterative product development and refinement with the goal of identifying strategic partnerships with technology or software companies; improving the highest-potential products through fast prototyping; and piloting those products. Participants collaborated with the E Source design team as well as peers at other utilities who were working on similar projects.

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Year 3. Customer portfolio of the future

By using advanced segmentation and persona approaches, utility customers provided value and choice for all customers regardless of whether they wanted basic service or elements that were bundled for convenience, lowest cost, greatest value, advanced technologies, or the environment. Each participating utility chose the portfolio of products and services that best fit its market, improved the customer experience, and maintained or boosted revenues and profitability.