At the center of a great customer experience is a well-rounded brand that engages consumers on every touchpoint. Energy companies used to turn a blind eye to this, opting to focus solely on themselves and neglecting the importance of a happy customer. Recently, many players within the energy space have placed a highed emphasis on building strong brands of which the customer is at the center.
4 things Volterra Energy Holdings learned about customer experience
Volterra Energy Holdings is one such company. Based in Houston, Texas, Volterra Energy Holdings provides retail electricity services to both commercial and residential customers through three brands: Volterra Energy, Discount Power, and Power Express.
Last year at CHARGE Energy Branding Conference, Mohsin Hassan, COO of Volterra Energy Holdings, shared four main takeaways the company identified in their journey through the customer experience and engagement process.
Focus on engagement leads to operational efficiency
When focusing on building great customer experiences and successful engagement, companies need to learn about and understand their customers. As we noted in a previous post, important information can be derived by observing or simply asking consumers. This gives the company access to a host of data to analyze and interpret in order to gain a deep understanding of its customers.
A convenient by-product of this activity is overall increased operational efficiency. Analyzing the voices and concerns of consumers allows companies to optimize various factors of their operations, which often they did not realize were underperforming or influencing consumers in a counterintuitive manner. Thus, a company seeking to increase operational efficiency might be best off by simply asking its customers.
An integrated omnichannel approach is key
40% of energy consumers are now expecting a response in six hours or less. To meet those expectations, an integrated omnichannel approach is critical. Effective energy brands must tighten up all channels and optimize resources across all consumer touchpoints in order to be able to respond in a timely manner through a channel of the consumers’ preference.
“Customer Service is a channel that is irreplaceable.”Mohsin Hassa, COO at Volterra Energy Holdings
Customer service is the absolute most important channel in terms of successful customer experience and engagement. In the case of Volterra Energy Holdings, customers are moving away from often up to 30-year relationships in favour of the quality customer service the company offers.
Personalized care often beats technological capabilities
The electricity sector has committed to investing a lot of resources into customer experience and engagement related initiatives in recent years. There has been a huge amount of innovation in terms of how that is conducted. Reward systems, home efficiency bundles, other bundles involving energy storage and so on.
Despite best efforts, the energy space invaders are eating away at energy companies’ brand value and customer loyalty.
For Volterra Energy Holdings, the solution was simple: Listen to your customers, understand what they have to say and figure out how to take that information and use it for the company’s advantage.
You can’t have engaged customers without engaged employees
Employees are one of the most direct, personal and influential connection between energy companies and their consumers.
Therefore, you need to hire the best and pay them to the best of your ability and have the proper incentive programs in place that enable them to represent your values to the customer.
In an increasingly competitive and noisy sector, employees can easily be one of the greatest assets an energy company holds. As a result, as Mohsin Hassan said at CHARGE, “you cannot have enough emphasis on hiring and on training the best possible resources and this is something you cannot look at as a cost, but have to look at as an investment.”
Creating a positive and memorable customer experience is difficult. All customers are not created equal. You need to consider the segmentation and demographics of your customers to craft a message that is relevant and useful. What’s more, consumers of many years can easily be driven away by a mistake in a single interaction.
But difficulty tends to be a multiplier on the reward. Customers who receive a great experience will purchase more, show more loyalty to the brand delivering the experience and will be more likely to share their experience with family and friends.
Keeping this to heart, Volterra Energy Holdings managed to maintain customer churn stable at less than mere 2%. This has allowed the company to become one of the fastest growing retail electricity providers in the United States for three years running and counting.