The ongoing conversation around utility rates seems as synonymous as the weather — or comparing scars — there always seems to be a “one-up” theme.
“How much was your energy bill last month? Ours was $150 and we keep the thermostat at 68 degrees.”
“Well, ours was $200 and we didn’t even turn it on.”
“We had to finance our energy bill and we eat via candlelight.”
Openly sharing our utility bill is part of our society, but the problem lies in that one-upping factor. For the most part, consumers are fairly cavalier about discussing their energy consumption with friends, neighbors and around the water cooler — and it makes sense. Each month, we get an energy bill, and we wonder how it could be so high. We go to the source — our thermostat — and realize quickly we have little knowledge how to operate it.
Utilities give light and heat; two staples of a comfortable livelihood. They are the backbone to your binge TV watching habits, or the days you just need an hour-long hot shower. Utilities provide comfort, entertainment and security that goes beyond just flipping a switch.
Yet the latest JD Power customer satisfaction study shows overall satisfaction with residential electric is growing at a slower rate when looking at comparable service industries, trailing significantly behind television and Internet providers.
Utilities can be so much more than a commodity. Customers either do not know about other services offered by their utilities, or only have a “when the bill arrives” or “something is broken” relationship with their energy provider.
The perception of utilities as just a commodity must change. Utilities can be – and must be – seen as so much more.There must be a value-add, something more than makes customers alter their perception. And the best part is, this doesn’t need to be a heavy lift on the end of the utility.
Energy is a monthly conversation topic. It’s up to utilities to provide better speaking points perhaps around customer engagement, energy efficiency, or rebate offerings.