This special interest group covers mobile technologies and approaches that are helping utilities do business today. 

35,430 Members

WARNING: SIGN-IN

You need to be a member of Energy Central to access some features and content. Please or register to continue.

Post

5 reasons to give your customers and teams the visibility they need

Paid for and edited by Dusk Mobile, sourced from Shutterstock

When identifying areas to improve in your utility, it can be easy to look at specific business functions or workflows in isolation. By lifting that up a level to more broadly, organisational visibility, a new world of benefits can be realised. My colleague, Mat Unwin and I were discussing the benefits of utility transparency recently, and these were some of our thoughts…

 

Today your customers, suppliers, staff and partners are making quicker decisions based on information that just 2 years ago, they may not have had access to. Decisions based on trust, authority and transparency. Do you use Google to find great restaurants in a new area? Rankings driven by customers who have experienced those restaurants. Photos support the rankings and now labeling those dishes based on the menu.

 

How can you apply this to your utility though and why should you provide visibility?

 

1. Productivity Improvements

 

This may sound obvious from the accountability-to-productivity standpoint for individuals and organisational teams, the cross-team productivity gains can be even greater in an agile environment. Early awareness of one teams delays to (or being ahead of) the standard operating rhythm in a project where multiple teams are working towards a common goal, allows the impacted teams to quickly pivot and re-focus in order to make the best of the new delivery date.

 

Visibility that another operational team is over (or under) performing will allow for the analysis and learning activities to start ASAP, before the opportunity to do so has passed. Even visibility into the same documents from a collaboration standpoint. The removal of email as the defacto method for communication and sharing material, that is fraught with issues.

 

With the right tools, smart software can provide visibility into a process, a project, a workflow and much more.

 

2. Loyalty

 

Perhaps often overlooked when your utility leaders are focused on the bottom line or their customer, is the team running the engine room. Simply asking your team members if they would rather work for an utility that truly fosters a transparent culture, celebrates successes and doesn’t hide their failures or a utility that holds their cards close to their chest at all times and has a tailored outbound message should show this.

 

Coming back to the opening paragraph, the vast majority of customers say they would not only prefer to buy from an organisation that delivers true transparency but would pay more to do so, as found in the Transparency ROI Study where, almost three in four consumers (73%) say they would be willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency in all attributes. That’s loyalty!

 

3. Innovation

 

Idea generation. Imagine your customers could understand the way a process is handled within your utility that could lead to them solving it for you? Perhaps your customer could provide more data up front that would shorten the process. Even just providing data in a specific format that reduces rework, questioning and time would deliver benefits to your utility.

 

Real example #1 – Recently we worked with a utility that fostered a level of transparency between their suppliers and their own staff. This led to the identification of a potential improvement that would lead to cost benefits and process improvements on both sides of the relationship.

 

Consider the insights that your customers, peers and employees might have for you, and the unknown cost that a lack of transparency might be having to your utility?

 

4. Workflow Optimisation

 

You don’t need to look far from the front door of your utility to identify workflow inefficiencies. Standing around the water filter or going out for coffee yields many “if only’s” related to workflows.

 

Optimisation can be explored across a couple of areas:

a) Visibility, as defined in point number 1, Productivity Improvements

b) Can a process be automated that not only delivers measured improvements to your teams by minimizing rework and reducing errors but improves your customer experience and ultimately your bottom line. A good example is provided in the 5th reason below.

 

5. Improved Communication

 

How many times have you been cc’d or bcc’d on emails that are of little to no value, just to provide visibility? Filling up your inbox, constant notifications on your phone and all taking up precious time to open or discard.

Using smart software, access is readily available to the work your teams are performing and can be configured so you receive the information you need to receive.

 

Real example #2 – I was involved in successfully delivering a workflow automation project for a utility customer recently where all quotations above a certain value had to pass by the CEO for approval. This was an internally defined figure but relied on the CEO reports remembering this and emailing them to the CEO, instead of straight to the customer.

 

My team defined the workflow and implemented the rules for our customer. Any quote generated from our customer’s finance system is automatically work flowed to the CEO for work above the figure and to the customer if it is below. Furthermore, the team delivered the functionality to loop the quotation back, by way of rejecting it internally for revision before resubmitting.

 

Other improved communication examples include reduction in phone calls chasing updates and email reductions. Most of all is optimizing the communication flow so that those that need to know, do so and those that don’t can access the information as they wish to. Traffic light statuses provide an easy to see visual and roadblocks are quickly removed.

 

Takeaway Tip

 

So how do you get started on the path to transparency and optimise your utility? Start by integrating your essential systems and products quickly and easily for real time collaboration amongst your teams. Automating work functions and delivering a connected experience has never been easier and achieving productivity improvements can start tomorrow.

Alan King's picture

Thank Alan for the Post!

Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.

Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 2, 2019 2:03 pm GMT

Coming back to the opening paragraph, the vast majority of customers say they would not only prefer to buy from an organisation that delivers true transparency but would pay more to do so, as found in the Transparency ROI Study where, almost three in four consumers (73%) say they would be willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency in all attributes. That’s loyalty!

I've definitely seen reports of certain customer groups willing to pay more for power that is verified to come from clean energy sources-- but is this talking about transparency in other ways?

Alan King's picture
Alan King on Dec 4, 2019 7:56 pm GMT

That's an interesting point @MattChester and something we've not yet explored. There are examples outside of utilities where this is already happening in food for example, with ethically sourced or even organic so it makes sense it's already happening in energy.

I'd consider it a different kind of transparency but underpinned by trust. At our core, trust plays a pivotal role in the buying decision and this isn't restricted to a specific product, service or industry. Thanks for the comment!

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 4, 2019 10:15 pm GMT

At our core, trust plays a pivotal role in the buying decision and this isn't restricted to a specific product, service or industry

Very true, and needs to be at the core of what a utility does everyday, because it's too easy to lose that trust and not easy to gain it back. 

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »