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For years, utilities have been a sole source provider for a territory and consumers were trapped into signing with the one for their area. The customer service ranged from poor to indifferent to average. Management didn’t see the need to emphasize how the service was provided because the customer didn’t have a choice and so had to accept whatever treatment they were given.

Those days are coming to an end and the utilities that recognize it today are the ones that will be the winners of the future. Competition is coming from alternate service providers that include cable companies offering wireless home energy management systems and upstarts selling rooftop solar. And competition is not just within the industry itself, but customers are experiencing great customer service on a day-to-day basis with companies like Amazon and that is raising their expectations for everything.

Here are five things that utilities are doing that we can all learn from:

1. Hiring customer-service oriented employees. Not everyone is naturally inclined to be nice. It is easier to hire a person who is customer-service oriented and teach them most job tasks than to hire someone who is equally technically competent and teach them to be nice.

2. Give customers a personalized report about their energy use with recommendations on how to lower their bill and become more energy use savvy.
Explain to customers how their energy use compares with similar homes in their areas and how they might reduce that use.

3. Make all online communications simple, convenient, and easy.

4. Send out email alerts when weather patterns suggest a customer might use more energy than usual. This raises awareness.

5. Educate the customer on energy-saving and energy-generating products. Better insulation, Smart thermostats, solar-powered systems, energy efficient appliances, etc. are all examples of ways customers can get involved in lowering their utility usage.

According to Gallup, the two qualities customers want most from a relationship is feeling like a partner in the business and secondly, receiving helpful advice. All of the five actions above help you to do these things.

And if you are not a utility company, you can still apply the five actions by tailoring them to fit your organization.

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