• Stalwart Consulting

Customers Aren't Waiting for Us to Catch Up

Energy Provider & Utility Series by StalwartMC

by Kelly O'Keefe

Freelance consultant - growth strategies, digital transformation

Today, customers are in the driver’s seat and, knowing so, many energy companies now tout their focus on customer-centricity. Remembering that customers are an asset benefits the customer, while providing great value back to the utility organization itself. Customers seek out solutions to help them manage their energy usage. Some focus on savings, convenience, or social responsibility to name a few. Regardless of the customers’ motivation; is your company ready to support their expectations and step-up as an expert aimed at helping customers navigate this journey?

Maybe you answered this question with a resounding “yes!” Acknowledging you need to be part of the solution for your customers is a great start, but sadly, it is not enough. It takes hard work and dedication across the enterprise. This means an investment of time and resources. From my experience, successful energy providers show commitment through the reallocation of existing resources to dedicated special projects. They also bring in third-party support when there are gaps in skills or as accelerators when there are time-constraints.

One of my favorite quotes I found (thanks to @MichaelHyatt) is from John Wooden, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it again?” I often share this with my teams and keep the quote hanging in my office as a reminder that building a company focused on the individual customer will require change and it must be done right the first time.

Utilities and energy providers need to reposition themselves and build partnerships to meet the changing needs of their customers. This is a transformation and will require cross-functional team engagement. Build a plan, identify contingencies, and execute with focus.

This is not the responsibility of one person or one department – collaboration builds success. Here is a quick checklist to start the process of repositioning your business to deliver value to your customers.

1. Document your business objectives. Are you looking to acquire new customers, increase customer loyalty, improve your customer satisfaction, and/or drive incremental revenue? Your product and service journey can potentially achieve all of these, and more. To start, prioritize what the primary driver is initially. Please note, this can change over time as you gain momentum by knowing your customers on a deeper level.

2. Activate your subject matter experts. For B2B entities, this may be your key account managers or service consultants. For B2C organizations, tap into front line employees working in the contact center and field operations. These employees work every day to solve customers’ problems and have great insight into their needs and wants. The knowledge they have helps you identify themes across, or within, customer segments for the purpose of developing solutions at scale. These groups know what works and what doesn’t. Make it easy for them to share these insights.

3. Establish a governance structure to demonstrate your sponsor is committed and willing to remove barriers to success. Support at the executive level is as important as building your plan. Their investment of time and influence will help cross-functional teams gain traction so they can execute with focus.

I’ve led numerous cross-functional transformational teams over the years and unfortunately, these three items were not always a part of the process. However, each team I’ve led benefited from the lessons learned of other teams and eventually built the strategic roadmap which enabled amazing customer centricity.

What would you add to the checklist as a priority based on your experiences leading similar projects? For those of you already transforming your business to focus on the customer, what did you learn along the way that would have made the journey easier?


StalwartMC is a leading management consulting and technology implementation firm based in Houston, Texas. StalwartMC provides a wide array of services across digital, technology, project management, organizational change and business strategy consulting. Having worked in every major industry within the greater Houston region, our primary focus is on stimulating and enabling better customer experiences for our clients.

Kelly O’Keefe, an 18-year veteran of the utility and energy space, is a strategist and thought-leader contracted by StalwartMC.

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