Do consumers want a relationship with their utility providers? The jury is out.

When you think about the sectors that consumers are most fond of, utilities languish somewhere near the bottom of the list.

It is unsurprising, therefore, that it has long been vaunted that consumers are just not interested in having a relationship with their utility suppliers.

As a result marketing has been aggressively acquisition based with limited CRM thrown into the mix.

But perhaps the tide is turning.

For instance insight from DMA’s email benchmark shows that whilst utility emails are some of the least opened (open rate of 15 per cent) if opened they actually garnered the highest click through rate.

The key is that many of these emails will be account-based updates that drive action from the recipient – for instance logging into their account to review their latest tariff or viewing their latest consumption statistics.

A separate research report, this one from Electricity North West revealed that almost three quarters (70 per cent) of people want to play a role in the UK’s utility infrastructure, particularly if it would result in them saving money or help them to reduce their carbon footprint and become more sustainable.

However, the majority have no idea how they can get involved, which is why currently only two per cent of people are actively participating in a community energy group.

So what do these two disparate reports have in common?

They indicate that the status quo is shifting.

Consumers are more interested in utilities than ever before and the fact that clicks are driven by relevance, but opens are driven by interest, the way to engage them is by adding value to their account-based communications.

For instance providing details of local energy group events or providing an online forum for energy saving tips.

 

The key for utility providers is to move away from the faceless, ‘at arms-length’ provider and become more customer-forward by opening more channels of communication and using data-driven insight that can enhance the customer journey and ultimately the customer experience.