Consumers rate the US as a world leader in delivering first class customer experiences. But what can UK home service providers learn from their peers across the pond?
Everything is bigger in America. With a population in excess of 300 million, the process of delivering gas, water and electricity is no small operation for the brands operating across its 50 states. Moreover, consumers rate the US as a world leader in delivering first class customer experiences. The home service providers are no exception to this trend, and their creative, customer-centric approaches to customer experience (CX) stand as leading examples to similar companies across the globe, particularly the United Kingdom.
Customer experience best practice
At KPMG Nunwood, a strong customer experience is one that performs well across The Six Pillars, which are the universal characteristics of CX, as identified from our years of research. These are Personalisation, Time and Effort, Expectations, Integrity, Resolution and Empathy, and many home service providers perform well across all of these areas. Technological innovation and creativity play a part as well, but it’s the perspective that the organisations adopt which makes the biggest difference. Indeed, the strongest American home service providers frequently question how a new procedure or piece of technology will improve the overall customer experience before it’s implemented.
A focus on integrity, expectations and empathy
Florida Power and Light (FPL) is an excellent example in this respect. It’s a company that has taken on the largest project to combine battery storage with solar power in the US.1 The energy storage system will store energy generated at the solar centre for supply into the main grid to meet demand during times when generation at the solar facility is low or when demand on the main network is high.2 Expanding its renewable energy portfolio has helped FPL reduce its consumer bills to be 30% lower than the national average.3 But FPL doesn’t rest on its laurels; the provider points out that it is “never satisfied” and is on a continual mission to deliver the best possible experience.4
This resonates with the KPMG Nunwood pillars of integrity, expectations and empathy. FPL are conscious of the high level of expectation that its consumers have, and indeed the brand sets high expectations for itself. Their practices have been integrated fully into the customer experience, and are reflected in their CX scores. One such example is that FPL has created an Energy Dashboard that enables customers to monitor their usage across days or specific hours, allowing them to tailor their consumption and potentially save money.5 This is supported by a bespoke smartphone app that delivers real time updates on outages, and even enables users to pay their bills or receive projected estimates.6
A heartfelt and trustworthy approach to CX helps reassure customers that the brand is on their side, and that it’s sincerely looking out for their best interests.
This is certainly true of the Texas-based provider Direct Energy. On its website, the company proudly states: “We want you to use less electricity. Yes, we mean it! It's better for our planet and on your wallet.”7 The site then goes on to provide a wealth of customer resources which provide guidance on summer energy efficiency and green living, all of which is brought under the umbrella of an online learning centre known as the Reduce Your Use University.8
The best of British
And whilst all of these American innovations are inspirational and impressive, they are not unheard of in the United Kingdom. For example, British Gas offers its own smart meter to help consumers manage their energy usage. Indeed, this variation automatically sends meter readings back to British Gas in order to minimise the customer’s investment of time and effort, and it also allows ‘pay as you go’ consumers to top up using their smartphones, removing the need to seek out a PayPoint outlet.9 As smart, connected homes are becoming the new norm for the energy industry, this will change the way that customers will interact with energy companies, so companies need to continually evolve and challenge the norm, to not only thrive but survive.
However, where America can provide the greatest encouragement and inspiration is in its uncompromising focus. Many of its home service providers are arguably ‘customer obsessed’ when it comes to providing gas, electricity and water, and it’s this infectious drive that leads these organisations to adopt world-class practices.
With the US as its role model, there many reasons for Britain to feel optimistic about the future of home service provision.
KPMG in the UK are proud sponsors of the Customer Engagement category of the Utility Week Awards 2018. The awards recognise, motivate and celebrate outstanding performance and innovation across the utilities industry.
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