This post was originally published on FirstFuel’s website. FirstFuel is now Uplight.
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are often underserved energy customers – their sheer volume, varying energy profiles, and diverse motivations make them a challenging segment to engage. But, this customer segment can represent up to 75% of a utility’s business customer base – representing a tremendous opportunity to increase customer satisfaction and promote products and services.
The good news is that The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative’s new report, “Understanding Your SMB Customers: A Segmentation Approach”, unveils a multitude of key insights and opportunities for electricity providers to engage this key customer group with meaningful, personalized energy communications and recommendations. Here are our four key takeaways from the report.
Segmentation = Opportunity
The report reveals six key segments that describe the behaviors of SMBs and show real differences in needs an attitudes between segments. This segmentation can be used by utilities to identify which SMBs are motivated to engage, and which types of offers, products, or services they might be interested in. Armed with data and insights, utilities can initiate better informed and more value-added customer conversations that lead to improved customer actions.
SMBs Want Utility Offerings
We know that SMBs are busy running their businesses – and have limited time to think about energy. But, this shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of interest in energy products or services. In fact, the report shows that as many as 86% of SMBs in some segments are interested in new energy offers from utilities. Utilities can leverage this to create segment-specific messaging and offers to convert interest to action. Personalized communications will not only drive product uptake, but also go a long way in terms of earning trust and improving customer satisfaction.
Which Communications Channel for SMBs? The Omni-Channel
Once you’ve figured out the right offers for the right customers, the next question is which channels to use? We often hear utilities struggle with identifying the right channel mix and this research helps validate why – SMBs generally expect omni-channel communications. While 67% of SMBs indicate a preference for email, 42% prefer letters, 25% prefer websites, and 24% prefer the phone. To meet these expectations, utilities can focus on optimizing existing touch points, for example customer bills, auto-payment scheduling notifications, and other service communications. By maximizing existing impressions, utilities can provide customers with useful and personalized information through every channel.
Become a Trusted Advisor, at Scale
Many utilities struggle with the sheer volume of the SMB segment – it seems impossible to understand their needs and service them at the same level as larger business accounts. And SMBs notice – only 16% state that their energy supplier is their trusted source for energy information. But, equipped with data and a better understanding, customer facing teams can speak to SMBs with more confidence and become a trusted source for energy advice. Using a segmented approach, utilities can bucket customers into meaningful groups and build a role as a trusted advisor at scale.
With the powerful combination of customer segmentation and harnessing the treasure chest of customer energy data, utilities are better positioned than ever to connect with SMBs in meaningful and impactful ways that drive results.