Lessons for Energy Companies from the Telecoms Industry

July 1, 2024
The European energy sector is in a continuous state of innovation and many energy companies struggle to keep up with the rate of change. Over the last few years, several utility companies have gone bankrupt due to an inability to keep up with the evolving energy market, and failing to adopt to new technologies.

As renewable energy becomes more commonplace, the demand for electricity is rising. Likewise, both commercial and domestic energy usage patterns are changing due to a rise in hybrid working and the adoption of electric vehicles. The explosive adoption of AI is also drastically adding to the increased usage.

What’s more, Net Zero and decarbonisation targets are adding to the complexity of the grid, prompting utility operators to navigate the supply and demand balance of distributed energy sources.

Two decades ago, the telecoms sector faced its own set of challenges in the face of digitalisation, which saw networks and service offerings converge to provide global connectivity. Having managed to adapt to a digital environment and anticipate the needs of its European customers, there are several lessons that energy companies can learn from the transformation of the telecoms industry.  

Although some energy companies have managed to adapt to digitalisation, many have disappeared. In France alone, over the last 3 years, at least 7 energy companies have gone out of business, and there have been many more cases throughout the rest of Europe and the UK.  

To stay competitive in today’s marketplace, retailers need to adapt, and the telecoms industry provides a solid framework for inspiration.

Seamless digital experiences are key

The rise of digital-native brands like Amazon and Netflix set new standards for the telecoms industry. As customers came to expect efficient real-time and personalised experiences, telecoms companies had to adapt their business models and embrace self-service interactions to maintain customer engagement.  

For example, telecoms companies introduced autonomous top-up options for pre-paid plans, automated SIM card issuing in shops, and more recently, ID verification using face recognition software.

According to a report published by TeleTech, 69% of telecoms customers now attempt to resolve their own technical issues before arranging a service visit, cementing telecoms as a leader in self-service adoption.

With the energy sector’s reputation for long call centre wait times, it would do well to be inspired by the success of telecoms’ digital-first approach to customer service. Recent research from NTT data finds that 66% of consumers would change their energy provider due to poor customer experience.

As such, energy companies need to prioritise their digital experiences. For example, at triPica, we helped German energy company Enercity reduce its customer churn rate 67% by moving to a digital platform that puts the customer experience first.  

Recognising that the era of selling utility commodity is the thing of the past, and selling customer tailored experiences is the way forward, Enercity decided to adopt its business model to meet today`s customer needs.  However, the company knew it couldn’t rely on an outdated SAP IS-U system to power its operations and please customers. It needed a fully integrated CRM alongside seamless sales and business processes to be the future ready utility provider.

Consumers expect flexible, efficient billing

Despite many European countries having achieved a smart meter rollout of over 80%, many still report major quality issues when it comes to customer billing. Putting aside energy price volatility, one of the key factors that lead to energy billing issues is the use of outdated billing models.  

In the telecoms industry, most mobile users have prepaid plans based on pay-per-minute usage, or per megabyte. However, most European households receive their energy bills quarterly, often based on estimated meter readings. In turn, households are more likely to receive bill shocks from their energy invoices than from their mobile bills.  

Utility companies could adopt similar flex energy usage, top-up options and adopted billing initiatives, especially for consumers that live in rural areas where grids need to be extended and post-paid billing isn’t feasible. Providing consumers with the option to add credit top ups to their plans could avoid billing discrepancies and empower consumers to have more control over their energy use.

Likewise, by leveraging digital billing platforms that integrate with smart meters, energy companies can generate more reliable consumer data, making energy bills more accurate. By providing customers with mobile apps, consumers can track their energy usage and the associated costs.  

However, according to a 2023 report from consumer intelligence company J.D. Power, the number of large energy companies offering mobile apps has declined in the past two years, with 30% of the largest providers currently offering no mobile app at all.

For consumers to be able to budget effectively, they need the tools to track their energy usage, so they can adjust their behaviours to reduce the likelihood of building up debt with their supplier.

Real-time monitoring means optimal resource allocation

In telecoms, real-time network monitoring, coupled with intelligent management tools, enables companies to leverage data analytics to optimise network uptime.  

Unlike legacy systems, real-time monitoring also enables telecoms to resolve network issues before they happen by analysing patterns and making appropriate adjustments.  

In turn, networks can be downsized or scaled more easily as bandwidth can be matched to traffic volumes. This means that resources are being allocated as efficiently as possible, which in turn, leads to a better customer experience.  

In the energy sector, one of the biggest challenges companies face is balancing the supply and demand of distributed energy sources like solar rooftops and smart charging units for electric vehicles.

By embracing real-time monitoring, energy companies can make better distribution decisions, lower grid maintenance costs, and provide consumers with a more reliable, affordable power supply.

Likewise, by integrating real-time monitoring with billing systems, energy companies can better support the evolving energy markets. For example, in 2022, when energy prices hit a record high, the various energy regulation models across Europe made it challenging for utility companies to adapt to price cap changes in line with regulations.  

With real-time monitoring capabilities, and a flexible digital platform, energy companies can adjust energy prices quickly and easily, avoiding unnecessary billing issues.

Disruptive models are changing the business landscape

Technology is often the driver for industry disruption, and in telecoms, it has increased competition from both traditional companies as well as startups.  

For example, in the 2010s, Software Defined Networking (SDN) gave rise to more agile and cost-effective WAN services by centralising the control of internet protocol (IP) data flows.

Likewise, the rise of IP-based communication systems like Over-the-Top (OTT) disrupted the telecoms landscape and saw companies like Skype delivering services over broadband using fixed and mobile networks.  

Facing increased competition enabled by these technologies, traditional telecoms providers adapted their business models to keep up with the rise of non-traditional telco competition.

Although many traditional utility companies are starting to adopt similar ‘full-service’ offerings, the rate of adoption is somewhat slower and large organisations are facing competition from forward-thinking software, automotive, and fintech companies.  

Driven by the decarbonisation agenda, these companies are changing the way consumers access, consume, and pay for energy. In today’s consumer-centric market, and even despite rising energy prices, customers are gaining more control over how and when they use energy.

It’s important that energy companies consider how they’ll generate revenue in the future as data automation, peer-to-peer trading platforms, storage-as-a-service, and pay-as-you-go schemes take hold in the industry.  

Likewise, as global energy regulations become tighter, companies will need to innovate in order to keep up with these new business models. 

How triPica can help utility companies navigate the evolving energy landscape

At triPica, we enable utility companies to deliver a fully digital customer experience and regain operational agility. Companies can manage the entire customer lifecycle using most innovative technology built from customer experience down, while retaining excellent service.  

Our cloud-based SaaS platform empowers customers and agents by providing full visibility over energy consumption and billing information. Our 360° customer view CRM portal allows agents to respond to customer needs in real-time and impress them with excellent service by offering relevant information at the right moment. With recent AI enrichment, triPica has taken the personalisation of the customer service and the overall customer journey to a whole new level, creating even bigger gap between innovative platform and the legacy platforms built for the business models of the last century.

It ensures energy bills are accurate and easy to understand by providing transparency over billing practices. In turn, utility companies gain more control over their billing, which helps avoid customer bill shocks and disputes.

Likewise, if utility retailer’s business model becomes a hostage of inflexible IT systems, complex IT interfaces, and a large IT team, maybe it is time to think differently, triPica platform for utilities can streamline operations by offering a one-stop-shop for all ‘meter-to-cash’ activities.

For example, we helped French utility company Primeo Energie increase its market share by entering France’s business-to-consumer (B2C) market. Our platform helped the company streamline its operations and better manage its customer acquisition process. We also enabled the company to launch non-commodity offers on demand.  

With triPica, energy suppliers can expect to decrease their cost-to-acquire by up to 50%, while increasing acquisition rates. Likewise, churn rates can be reduced by up to 67% by encouraging customer loyalty, and cost-to-serve can be reduced by up to 60%, resulting in greater profitability.

Find out more about how triPica can help your company navigate the evolving energy sector.

Contact us utilities banner triPica womanContact us telco banner triPica

Event utiilities banner triPica