Fellows in the News

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “Most utility customers spend just 8 minutes per year thinking about their electricity bill.”

That 8-minute stat comes from Accenture, and it actually refers to online interactions between customers and their utilities. Accenture's study is a much broader and more comprehensive report on customer engagement with utilities, but skeptical conference panelists often pick out this one stat, looking to throw cold water on the latest “big idea” in energy -- like the suggestion that everyday consumers will suddenly embrace time-of-use rates or that Grandma will use blockchain technology to sell excess solar power to her neighbor. How could any of that happen when customers spend so little time interacting with their energy provider?

It’s an effective one-liner in front of an audience, but it's one of those quick stats that doesn’t address the full picture on engagement.

Customer engagement is fundamentally not about measuring minutes of thought or effort. It’s about achieving outcomes, things like improving customer service, generating system-level savings and facilitating customer choice. Instead of fretting over the average user’s limited online attention span, utilities should instead focus on delivering the right type of service to fit a customer's preferences and deliver their desired results. For some consumers, 8 minutes per year is more than enough to build a strong relationship with their utility, and innovative utilities are making the most of their online interactions with customers in a number of different ways.

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