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SA consumers want energy management

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The demand for energy management services from South African consumers’ – especially digital channel users -is high.
This is one of the findings from Accenture’s 2015 survey, “New Energy Consumer: Unleashing Business Value in a Digital World”, which gauged the opinions of 11 298 consumers in 21 countries, of which 500 were South Africans, where the sample was representative of the urban populations.
Kenneth Robinson, senior manager for Accenture Utilities, presented the findings at the DistribuTECH Africa Conference, part of Power-Gen Africa 2016. “South African consumers are ready to use digital channels for interaction with energy providers,” he says. “This is an opportunity for Municipalities to improve the consumer experience whilst reducing costs.”
The study revealed that over half of South African respondents are already using or are planning to use digital channels for the majority of their service transactions with their energy provider over the next two years to (among others): manage their bills (74%), receive or provide outage information (70%), and to receive information on energy usage (65%).
“Although consumers’ level of satisfaction with their current energy providers decreased by 27% compared to the previous year (2014), the willingness of South African digital customers to share information and manage energy usage is substantially higher than that of customers using traditional channels,” says Robinson.
The latest survey from 2016, “New Energy Consumer: Thriving in the Energy Ecosystem”, shows that worldwide, millennials view energy and engage in a far deeper way with energy providers and from a completely different vantage point. While there’s obvious demand for new products and services in this space from them, they want information, and they want everything to be instantaneous and accessible on their terms.
Millennials’ expectations when it comes to use of digital channels are also higher. For example, they attach more importance than older demographics to a personalised experience across digital channels as well as access to the latest digital technologies that enable them to interact with their energy providers.
“Energy providers in South Africa must understand these global insights, because their consumers’ preferences and behaviours are also rapidly changing,” says Melusi Maposa, MD of Accenture Resources. “Successful energy providers will place design thinking at the heart of their business to create better digital solutions for customer and retail operations.
“Customer strategies must take a broad view of the trends shaping today’s consumers, and more importantly, the consumers of tomorrow,” Maposa adds. “To thrive, energy providers must move quickly to architect their digital offerings, build new capabilities to seize new opportunities, achieve scale and continuously innovate.”