According to the latest edition of the “New Energy Consumer” research from Accenture, traditional energy providers are not focusing enough on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), causing them to miss out on substantial cost savings and new revenues. According to the research, the providers are not doing enough to tailor digital customer experiences, products, and services to some businesses.
Nearly 60 percent of the 3,800 survey respondents who took part in the research—which surveyed SMBs across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific—said that energy providers’ current products, services, and support were either not tailored to their business needs or were the same as those for residential customers.
SMBs and residential customers often have different needs.
Tony Masella, a senior managing director at Accenture, commented, “Our analysis shows that in competitive European markets, for example, an average-sized retail energy provider could unlock up to approximately $37 million in net benefits over a five-year SMB customer digital transformation program with tailored services.”
She added, “The SMB segment tends to be forgotten, yet it offers significant value for providers using digital channels in the new energy ecosystem.”
Respondents’ answers revealed that SMBs are more likely to try new products and services as business costumer than they are as residential customers.
Furthermore, SMBs are ready and willing to use innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence. For example, the study shows that 67 percent of SMBs believe that digital agents could provide more customized and tailored advice drawn from more information sources.
Forty-three percent of respondents revealed an interest in solar-power sharing programs that would allow them to partner with their energy provider to co-own and operate solar panels in exchange for a discount.
In addition, 42 percent expressed interest in offering new energy-related products and services to their customers to generate new revenue. An example of this type of partnership would be a grocery store selling energy-efficient thermostats to its customers.
The study revealed also that traditional energy providers face fierce competition from specialized energy services, with 59 percent of respondents saying they would consider their phone, internet, or cable provider, and with almost half of respondents—46 percent—commenting that they are either certain of or considering switching providers in the next 12 months.
The factors that would motivate SMBs to switch include receiving a specific energy engagement program (cited by 44 percent) and enhanced customer service and support (44 percent) tailored to their business needs.
“This competition highlights the urgency for traditional energy providers to act now and take advantage of digital energy engagement, which our survey found drives a more than sevenfold increase in SMBs’ likelihood to sign up for additional energy-related products and services,” Masella said. “To land new customers, energy providers need to offer programs with tailored business insights from customers’ data, deliver an interactive connected energy experience, and make these services an effortless experience.”