In 2015, we assessed the omnichannel efforts of the utility industry across eight customer-facing channels:

  • Website (desktop, laptop, and mobile)
  • Mobile app
  • Email
  • Text messaging
  • Online chat
  • Phone—IVR
  • Phone—live agent
  • Social media

The study provided insights into the health and integration of those channels from a representative sample of residential customers and utilities across the US and Canada.

Study objectives

Our goal for this study was to provide a diagnostic tool for utilities that are building a business case for omnichannel efforts.

From a residential customer perspective, we wanted to understand:

  • What residential customers expected when they interacted with a company across channels, and how those expectations differed from what the utility industry was offering
  • Which key customer interactions were most important for utilities to offer in a seamless way

From a utility perspective, we explored:

  • The performance and importance of each customer-facing channel and which interactions should be more integrated for utility customers
  • Which channel metrics utilities should focus on to improve the customer experience within the utility industry

The results of this market research project illuminated the gaps between the customer and utility perceptions of omnichannel experiences and provided a foundation of research metrics and channel priorities for the industry.

Methodology

It’s critical for an omnichannel survey to explore the utility and customer perspectives, so we surveyed both groups.

E Source Omnichannel Survey marketing page graphic

Surveys focused on the utility audience (voice of the utility). Utility participants of our survey were channel owners or the point person for answering questions about omnichannel strategy and the implementation of eight distinct channels at each organization. One survey asked about omnichannel strategy and integration at the utility, while the additional eight surveys asked specific channels.

Each utility representative evaluated the importance of the specific channel, the current performance of the channel, the integration of channels across interactions, and the utility’s performance in each channel. E Source analysis revealed the gaps between performance and importance for each channel. In addition to the gap analysis, we also evaluated and reported on key metrics for each channel. Our analyses allowed us to identify performance targets for the utility industry.

Survey focused on the residential customer audience (voice of the customer). We surveyed 800 residential customers across the US and Canada to assess their experiences, preferences, and expectations when interacting across eight channels not specific to the utility industry. Participating customers were asked about their cross-channel interactions with various industries in order to evaluate whether energy providers were meeting residential customer expectations compared to other service industries.

The voice-of-the-customer survey mirrored the questions we asked utilities regarding the importance and performance of each communication channel. E Source analysis combined channel-specific metrics from each utility with customer expectations and identified performance gaps and steps utilities could take to better serve their residential customers.