“Connecting the disconnected” is a phrase that sounds like common sense, like someone stating the obvious. But it actually does have a profound meaning in today’s disconnected world. My recent trip from Zurich to Leipzig illustrates this point perfectly. The trip was meant to be two back to back short flights, all done in two and a half hours. Somehow, I wasn’t too surprised that I missed my connecting flight because of a 40-minute delay (despite my best attempts at wishful thinking). What surprised me most, though, were the cabin crew’s affirmations that “all connecting flights will be reached.” My trip took over seven hours.
There’s no blame here, and I’m sure everyone has similar travel experiences to tell involving other airlines. But we as individuals don’t easily forget these types of experiences. We expect our service providers to be leaders in their respective business. Because of this experience, the next time I book a business trip, I may very well choose another airline carrier.
In some industries, you still don’t have that plethora of choice—though in today’s world, it’s only a matter of time until you will. But for the time being, utilities is one of these “no-choice sectors” in which customer empowerment still has a way to go. WWZ Group in Zug is one of those utilities companies going in the right direction, recently announcing that they’ll digitalize their company processes to become more customer-centric. You may be asking yourself right now, “Utilities—aren’t those a bunch of services that I can simply take for granted? And how can a utilities company make big changes to their services when they only supply water, electricity, and gas?”
Stefan Willi, the CTO of WWZ Group, sees many ways for utilities providers to serve their customers differently going forward. Why? Because he believes that everyone has their own utilities profile. In a market that’s now rapidly approaching liberalization, consumers will want to go online not only to compare prices, but also to determine the source of their electric current.
You may be the type of person who’s ecologically-minded and wants to increase your hydroelectric current. You might even want to go as far as producing your own power and supplying it to the public grid. By making processes simpler and more transparent, a provider like WWZ can take the role of an industry leader and build customer loyalty before competition kicks in—what a remarkable strategy for a company that has a monopoly in its geographical area.
WWZ has chosen its route to greater customer centricity, and that route is with digitalization. Actually, it’s the only sustainable path because it directly responds to the digital transformation taking place within our society. Digital transformation’s driving liberalization across industries and empowering customers to move away from their former service providers if they want to.
Utilities will be no exception in the new era of customer empowerment. It’s only a matter of time before we’ll want to configure our energy choices with the same ease that we select our airlines today. And utilities service providers will need to count on seamless end-to-end processes, be it for the automatic generation of your bills or the more customized services that help you receive the municipal subsidies for your new photovoltaic system. So now you see why with utilities as much as with travel, it’s all about connecting the disconnected. Once a services provider achieves this, it’s able to create a truly positive experience for its customers.