Right-Sizing A Utility's Investment In Customer Service

The evolving clean energy economy is driving utilities across the United States to redefine their relationships with customers, as well as their investments in customer service. How much should a utility invest in customer service? The answer starts with the utility’s business strategy. 

Right-sizing the level of customer service investment requires careful reflection and understanding as to where the utility wishes to position itself in the new energy economy. Additionally, it requires understanding how various investment strategies can improve a utility’s relationship with its customers and position that utility for success in this changing environment. The customer service organization must be aligned to the strategic goals of the utility. Once we determine the future state of the customer service organization aligned with the utility goals, we can create an optimal path forward. The four stage customer service maturity model provides a framework to determine that desired future state. 

This paper reviews factors driving the new energy economy and the diversity among utilities that mandates individualized approaches to customer service based on local regulatory and legislative conditions and customer expectations. It presents a Utility Customer Relationship Maturity Model, developed based on our observations of utilities across the United States. This model includes four key phases of maturity on a continuum that extends from traditional utility operations to customer-centric organizations. This model offers a useful resource for utility executives tasked with making choices that can increase the value and strength of the organization’s customer relationships.