It might be considered crazy, or loco, to suggest that utilities can learn from other industries, especially when we look at a sector so dissimilar to the utility industry that it’s hard to find the connection. However, one company has created a new digital experience that’s not only moving toward an omnichannel experience, it’s also providing a prototype for how to improve the utility digital experience.

Who is this forward-thinking company? Taco Bell.

I know what you’re thinking: “I sell kilowatt-hours, not tacos! People need to have power to accomplish their daily tasks, not burritos. How can I learn from Taco Bell?” With Taco Bell’s new website and mobile app, I can find my favorite item, order it online, and pick it up in the drive-through or in the lobby. Or, I can order my food in the lobby, eat it there or take it home, and save my order to my online account. What’s supercool is I can use the website or mobile app to announce that I’ve arrived at a restaurant. The cashier can see my order in my online account and assemble it on the spot, customizing it to my exact liking. And the Taco Bell experience keeps getting better! Every time I visit the site and order something, the system remembers, so next time I can reorder the same thing with just a few short clicks. Or, I can customize my order to create a meal that’s just for me. Fun, fast, convenient, and on brand.

Taco Bell’s omnichannel strategy is so seamless, my food drops out of my computer screen right onto my desk. Well, almost.

Photo of the Taco Bell website on a computer screen and Taco Bell food underneath it

Taco Bell is doing more than just selling tacos; it’s delivering a delicious omnichannel experience, where customers can seamlessly move between channels and feel like they’re always interacting with the same brand. This should catch the attention of all industries. Why? Because customers develop their expectations of an ideal experience from a smorgasbord of all of the experiences they’ve had. They pull out the best bites—whether they’re from online interactions, phone calls, or in-person visits—and develop pie-in-the-sky ideas of what an ideal experience should be.

Omnichannel isn’t a buzzword that’s going away anytime soon. Forbes has written extensively on the subject in articles such as The Omni-Channel Experience: Marketing Meets Ubiquity, and Accenture has done studies, as mentioned in the article Omni-Channel Experience is Critical to Fueling B2B Customer Engagement, Finds Accenture and SAP Hybris Study. In fact, E Source is conducting its own research on the topic. And you can hear all about it at our December 10 web conference Key Findings from the E Source Omnichannel Survey 2015, when we’ll review the results of our study. The E Source Omnichannel Survey is the first of its kind in the utility industry. In it, we examine eight customer-facing channels from both the customer and utility perspectives.

And because the web conference starts at 12:00 p.m. MST (2:00 p.m. EST), many of our members will be having lunch. So let’s order some Taco Bell! “¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!”

Contributing Authors

Managing Director, Management Consulting

Jeffrey Daigle is an expert on contact center operations, customer experience, channel design, operations, digital engagement, and journey mapping...