Some starred restaurants have long defined their “signature”: a detail characterizing them and allowing them to be identified immediately. It can be a culinary focus: fish or mushrooms, or a particular dish. This signature conveys a part of their history, of their culture; it helps to create a more emotional and stronger connection with the client, to tell him a more complete and coherent story.
Is this notion reserved for the world of gastronomy? Would the energy world not find a value and a vector of loyalty for its customers?
Until recently, energy players have neither needed to be identified, nor needed to create a strong relationship with their customers, nor needed to tell particular stories, nor needed to retain their customers: all because they enjoyed a monopoly position.
Everything changed !
Firstly, energy companies felt the need to differentiate themselves by price, customer relationship or service. The communication to customers has been expanded, the offers catalogs too. The first to take the advantage on a particular point benefited quickly from it (if the conditions for a true competition were met).
But what can make the difference between one energy service and another, between a supply of photovoltaic panels and another, between 100% green energy and 100% green energy? The results obtained, the quality of the customer relationship, the quality of services, nothing very visible a priori.
How to appear different in these conditions? Here are some observations, suggested by the reading of different customer surveys conducted by European energy companies:
– Most energy providers can not afford to remain leaders in all customer segments. They need to choose priority targets on which to be the best rather than being average everywhere.
– B2C customers, like many B2B customers, are now solicited from all sides and do not know how to sort the offers, except on simple, but incomplete or misleading, criteria such as the price per kWh.
– B2C and B2B customers often have an image of energy suppliers that is deteriorating.
– They express the desire to reduce their dependence on suppliers and do not always perceive the innovations offered to them.
I noticed that developing a signature allows the energy company to answer these points:
– It conveys its targeted customers the value brought, their main competenceand their business focus.
– It describes a differentiating domain or axis with an almost “genetic” character, easily understandable by customers.- It creates a nicer image and a more emotional connection with consumers.
– It brings visibility and coherence. To define a signature is to initiate the resolution of a complex equation and to take a step back.
But two difficulties arise when it comes to defining it:
– The communication and offers of the energy supplier is now based on non-exclusively technical components. The energy company has to learn how to manage them.
– Defining a signature is an exercise that requires to objectively look at the energy company, his culture, his taboos, his beliefs, his skills, his intentions and that helps to clarify the relevance of the client’s strategy.
Not overcoming these difficulties could well transform the formidable power of this notion of signature in a boomerang destroyer of image and activity. But facing these difficulties could be a risk to make the energy transition an opportunity for growth and development.
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