October 12, 2016
Kirill Rechter discusses how customer expectations are changing the supply of energy services.
Do you see any changes in the way consumers are interacting with utilities that effect the future of the industry?
Yes, the manner in which consumers are interacting with utilities has certainly changed in recent years. This has already had a strong impact on the utilities industry and it will continue for a long time.
To start with, competition in many markets has given consumers choices that previously did not exist and has created pressure among utility companies to improve their services and the way they relate to their customers.
Consumers now have readily-available access to alternatives and are demanding transparency on their services and the how they are being charged. As a result of this consumer pressure, many incumbent utility providers have been forced to simplify their rate plans and invoices. At the time, many new entrant energy providers have won significant market based on improved service and simplified charging.
Going forward, consumers will expect that more and more detailed information about their actually consumption habits will be made available by the utility companies. To meet this expectation, we will see utility companies adjust their service plans and pricing accordingly.
How does the growing trend of consumers managing their own energy influence what you are offering your utility clients?
The ongoing trend of consumers managing their own energy consumption is creating a market opportunity for utility companies to generate long term revenue from satisfied and loyal customers. This trend is also creating a market opportunity for us as vendor of billing solutions to provide the tools to utility companies to meet this and other new demands of consumers in newly and recently competitive markets.
We are seeing more requirements from utility companies for functionality to support advanced pricing plans and charging. Many of the complex requirements are coming from energy suppliers that are targeting the business and industrial sector. Many retail energy suppliers have also approached us about implementing involved pricing plans that combine prepaid and postpaid charging.
Other requirements that we have recently seen include Pay as You Spend schemes with pricing based on actual consumption, which can be more profitable for the utility company. We have also had a number of requests recently to implement Time of Usage tariffs. This type of tariff actually saves money for both the consumer and the utility provider.
And how do you see yourselves as helping facilitate the energy transition?
Each of our service provider customers has its own business plan and growth strategy. Some are focusing on customer service to build a loyal customer base, while others are offering lower prices to attract new business. What we do is provide the tools and the solution from a billing, service delivery and customer management perspective for our customers to capitalize on the market opportunities they decide to pursue.
We position our service provider customers to offer multiple service models based on the needs of their customers and the market opportunities available to them. Service plans can include multiple product bundles, volume or cross product discounts, changing tariffs, cost/profit based pricing and many other options.
We have been in this business a long time. The options and opportunities that we are support are endless and can get rather sophisticated, which is something we are rather proud of.