Energy companies need to ramp up their mobile experiences

16 June 2020 3 min. read
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New challengers in the UK’s energy sector could enjoy greater success if only they would better deploy their mobile experiences, according to a new report. When contrasted with the way challenger banks have utilised mobile apps to win customers, energy firms are still failing to expand their services to offer anything beyond a nuts-and-bolts method of payment management. 

A combination of factors are making it more likely for consumers to switch between utilities providers in the UK. Drives in Britain to make it easier to switch energy providers – as well as increased local energy generation and the proliferation of intelligent home devices – are disrupting the utilities market, providing new opportunities to create a nation of professional consumers. Amid this increasingly competitive market, many operators are keen to find a differentiating factor which can give them an edge over their rivals. 

With business still far from ‘normal’ thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, excellent remote customer service and heightened digital experiences could prove to be just such an advantage. According to a new report from Publicis Sapient, it is therefore more important than ever to fast forward plans for delivering high quality and seamless digital experiences across mobile, web, and voice to ensure priority customer interactions can be addressed, and the impact on contact centre operations is minimised. 

Competitor analysis: Experience dimensions

The study, undertaken by experts from Publicis Sapient’s Customer Experience, Product Management and Technology teams, examines the customer experiences these mobile apps provide and the range of features, functions and services they enable. Despite its current importance, according to the report’s author, the mobile offering of UK energy suppliers is surprisingly muted. 

Simon Harvey, Utilities Leader EMEA at Publicis Sapient, said, “Large suppliers appear to lead the way in mobile experience, but overall there is limited differentiation across the sector. Surprisingly, the challenger suppliers do not stand out against the large suppliers. Instead, their apps are narrow in scope, focusing on simplicity and ease of use in the fundamentals.” 

This stands in stark contrast to operators in the banking sector, where mobile customer offerings have been used to court new customers for much longer. There, new challengers have used mobile apps to eat into the market share of established market players, while choosing not to invest in web or mobile web. Retail banking and telecommunications companies have meanwhile developed mobile-first experiences with features exclusive to their app, rather than investing to build them across the entire digital estate. 

Harvey stated that in order to emulate the mobile app strategies of the banking sector, there are three key steps energy players can take. First, there needs to be a greater shift to digital self-service, with mobile being used to deepen and broaden customer relationships through personalised experiences and recommendations. Then, mobile apps can become the default choice for launching and driving uptake of new products and services, such as digitally based energy-as-a-service propositions. 

Finally, he concluded, “Use mobile apps to help align internal capabilities. Delivering customer value through great app experiences is an excellent driver to help align the energy suppliers’ internal capabilities. Put simply, great apps are underpinned by modern platforms, while poorly performing apps are often the consequence of monolithic technical architectures and their associated ways of working.”