Step Aside Surveys — Utilities Now Have a Better Way to Understand Consumers

Mintel recently released their annual roundup of consumer trends for 2015, and, not shockingly, “wearable tech” was part of the #bigconversation. While this particular trend has more play with consumers looking to monitor their health, EnergyBiz provided a different angle on how wearable tech might help companies — specifically in the energy sector — monitor the health of their business — and it makes perfect sense.

The utility industry is in shake-up mode as it tries to redefine its business model around customer service. For utilities to survive, they must rethink the dialogue with their customers. It’s no longer a relationship about billing cycles and power outages. Now consumers expect to hear more from their power companies — they want analysis, proactive solutions and an opportunity to explore options that make sense with their lifestyles.

Utilities might not know what questions to ask as this new relationship takes shape, and consumers likely won’t start the conversation unless they’re pushed to start talking in the heat of the moment — no pun intended, but typically a consumer won’t reach out to his power company unless it’s to inquire about a problem, like the heating bill skyrocketing for no apparent reason.

Wearable tech could give the utility a baseline for a more meaningful conversation with consumers — from “How can we help you?” to “Here’s how we can help you.” Consumers who get on board with wearable tech that communicates usage and lifestyle data back to utilities could reap the benefits of having their utility tailor service options specifically to their needs.

What it boils down to is getting the kind of intel that really enables a company to make a difference for its customers. Traditionally, surveys cull this information from a pool of people to provide a statistical analysis of how that group thinks, feels and behaves. Wearable tech can fine-tune that intel by eliminating the boundaries that a traditional survey inherently presents. Instead of asking consumers to select the best answers from limited lists of choices, a utility can see how a consumer handles energy choices in real time based on data from wearable tech.

The result? A better understanding of consumer behavior, and thus a better way for energy companies to proactively service those customers in the future.