I created this envizualization (large scale visual notes) From a talk by Elia Lata of Zappos at the E Source Utility Customer Experience 2012 Conference in Las Vegas. For a larger size version, click here..
When you think of utility companies, you probably don’t think of nimble, customer focused organizations. Utilities tend to be fairly large, and focused more on keeping the electricity (or gas, or water, etc) flowing then getting into the mind of their customers and providing a great experience. They also tend to be unchallenged in the market place, without competitors. But utility customer expectations are set by all kinds of companies, from FedEx to Zappos, who have to stand out in competitive markets, and thus work to create ever improving customer experiences. So that is creating pressure on utilities to consider customer experience more seriously.
As far as the bottom line goes, utilities need to impress regulatory boards and local governments as well in order to get approval of rate changes and to get other activities approved. And customer attitudes can make a big impression on regulators for good or for ill.
Improved focus on customers also can yield bigger profits—for example if a utility makes it easy to pay a bill via the web or mobile device, they are going to lower their costs. Payment by mail or phone is expensive and time consuming.
So hearing from a customer experience leader like Zappos was eye opening. Customers are rarely going to get as excited about something they take for granted—like electricity, as they would be about anticipating a fabulous pair of shoes from Zappos, but Utilities realize that thinking beyond the electricity meter to the actual customer makes a great deal of sense.