Welcome to the E Source Blog! Our staff will share insights and observations about life at E Source, our events, our research, and other fun stuff.
Utility account management is in the midst of an important transformation that began a few years ago and will certainly continue in the near future. The shift was reflected at the Fall 2015 E Source Account Management Summit, where the dominant theme was how to move utility account management from a reactive stance of responding to customer inquiries and complaints to a forward-thinking, consultative approach led by proactive energy advisors. All of our data supports this broadening focus on Customer-Side Management.
The Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) decision to cut net-metering rewards for solar customers—and increase fixed charges—has caused much controversy and chased most solar companies out of the state. So my question is: Are special rates for solar customers ever a good idea? With the exception of special low-income residential rates, most utilities create broad, nondiscriminatory residential rate classes in the name of customer equity. I think we should take a hard look at the implications of a new discriminatory rate for solar customers. And if we establish a new rate for solar customers, should we consider new rate classes for customers with other end-use technologies? What would be the likely impacts of rate redesign for customers and utilities?
When they’re creating innovative networking solutions, Cisco employees use techie jargon to talk to each other. But when they’re creating marketing materials, that language falls flat, confusing customers so profoundly that they don’t understand the company’s product offerings or how to use them. So Cisco transformed the way it communicates and saw disproportionately impressive results. Similarly verbose organizations—like utilities—can learn from Cisco by simplifying the language in their communications to connect with more customers, extend their outreach, and improve their brand presence.
In my new-hire orientation at a contact center, I was taught that people who fail quality checks fail out of the call center. Luckily, I passed my first quality check, due mostly to my ability to use the standard greeting, the customer’s name, and the correct closing, and to enter the customer’s information correctly in the system. Why, then, were my customers still unhappy? When I got to contact center management, I proposed that we start looking beyond process adherence and start including the customer’s perspective in our quality assurance process. The results were astounding. Many contact centers are now doing the same. Read how they’re doing it.
Each year, the tech team at E Source chooses the biggest technology developments of the past 12 months. Our recent report details the top 20 technologies, but here we list our top 5 picks, which include huge leaps forward in battery storage, home energy management, the growth of the cannabis industry, ultra-cheap solar photovoltaics, and grid-interactive water heating.
Almost invariably, when I’m discussing the topic of customer experience (CX) with utility professionals, the topic of culture comes up. But is culture just a convenient scapegoat—a bogeyman we can blame for holding back CX progress? Or is it something we can—with a structured approach, the right skills, and the right tools—manage, control, and even capitalize on? The E Source Utility CX Culture Health Check breaks culture down in terms that lead to productive action and progress, enabling utility CX professionals to start getting real about customer-centric culture.
The linguistic and cultural mix of populations throughout North America is shifting, and utilities are working to develop community outreach and communications strategies that can meet the needs of all. Recently, we talked to Nancy Casanova, social media community manager for Southern California Edison (SCE), about SCE’s attempts to connect with its Spanish-speaking customers. She explained how the utility developed and launched its multicultural social media strategy, including its Spanish-language Twitter feed.
Last week, San Diego became the first major US city to commit to going 100 percent renewable. Find out how the city views the future of its relationship with local utility SDG&E and what this might mean for your utility’s relationship with municipal customers.
Now that electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining some market share, utilities are getting involved and encouraging adoption. One strategy they’re using is the installation of publicly available charging infrastructure, but the usage data suggests that EV drivers aren’t interested in the chargers. What, then, is the best strategy for utilities going forward?
In the offices of yesteryear, the everyday task of reading required industrial-strength overhead lighting. But today’s mobile professionals work off of backlit laptops, tablets, and smartphones; they’re not sitting down to read anymore, so offices don’t need the blinding fluorescents of the past. Many commercial and industrial (C&I) businesses are catching on and retrofitting their fixtures with efficient lighting technologies. But if they couple these upgrades with advanced lighting controls, they could realize up to 90 percent energy savings.