Consumer behaviour and expectations are constantly evolving. Any business that wants to retain customers in today’s fiercely competitive online landscape must keep up-to-date with the latest digital consumer trends. And that’s particularly true for utility companies – a sector that has faced a period of sustained negative publicity around poor customer service and rising prices, leading to diminishing consumer trust. So, let’s take a look at current consumer attitudes and trends – and discover how utility companies can keep their customers happy!

Unlike other products that customers can touch and feel when they buy them, the products and services provided by utilities barely register with most customers – until they get a bill that’s calculated wrong, the meter reading is off, or the price goes up. Between monthly bills, most customers aren’t encouraged to engage with their water or energy supplier. But according to the Digital Consumer Trends Index 2021, the majority of customers have an appetite for loyalty and want personalized engagement.

All hail email

There are numerous touchpoints and digital channels which a company can use to connect with its customers, but according to the report, email is still comfortably the preferred channel of consumers for receiving offers, content, incentives, and rewards from brands. When it comes to communication, email beats banner ads, social media native apps, organic posts, and SMS by up to 92%.

Personalization is key

The majority of consumers want to receive personalized content from trusted organisations and will readily share personal and preference data for it. According to the report, email personalization needs to go beyond merely using a first name, but offer products the customer has expressed an interest in and that are appropriate – derived from preference insights and purchase motivations that they have explicitly shared.

This takes email personalization beyond lumping consumers into large cohorts based on tired buyer personas. The personalization and messaging needs to be rooted in both first party data (data you have collected from your customer) and zero-party data (data that the customer has intentionally and proactively shared).

Creating messaging opportunities based on transactional data is great, but using zero-party and psychographic data (information about a person’s values, attitudes, energy/water usage, interests and personality traits that is used to build a profile of how an individual views the world, the things that interest them and what triggers motivate them to action) to personalize those messages will differentiate your brand from your competitors.

What does this mean for utilities?

In a world where it’s never been easier for a customer to switch supplier, utility companies need to sit up and take notice of what consumers want from brands and suppliers. A study done by Echo Managed Services found that 38% of consumers in the UK regularly switch energy provider. The reasons stated include:

  • 61% due to price increases
  • 40% because they want to find a better deal
  • 36% because of tight/diminishing household budget
  • 33% because of poor customer service

When you consider that according to the Digital Consumer Trends Index, consumers are willing to stay loyal to a company that communicates with personalized messaging, then a significant amount of churn can be avoided if utilities improve their personalized engagement with their customers.

When you also consider that thanks to the pandemic and the requirement for home working and schooling, most people have experienced a rise in their energy and water bills, then now is the time to reach out to customers with personalized content that supports them with tips and advice on how to reduce their consumption, and product and service offerings that are tailored to their requirements.

Discover how we combine methods from behavioral and data science to deliver customer engagement solutions for water and energy companies across the globe. Find out more. Or get in touch today to discuss how we can help keep your customers engaged and happy.