Utilities - Customers more determined to switch

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As the market approaches a tipping point, utility retailers have an opportunity to reward loyalty and attract new switchers, through innovative service offerings which empower their customers to feel more in control of their energy usage.

The EY Customer Experience Series™ – Utilities found that 73% of customers worry at least sometimes about being able to pay their electricity bill and 41% ranked energy bills in their top three most stressful issues.

The results of the 2013 survey draw upon comparisons with the findings of the same survey 12 months ago, which found that customers were apathetic about switching electricity providers because of the perceived time and effort involved.

Customers feel they have no control over rising costs

‘Receiving a high bill ‘ is the top reason why Australians would consider changing their electricity provider, yet despite rising costs 45% have never actually made the switch.

Almost half of all consumers (49%) now say their electricity bill accounts for a high proportion of their total household costs and is on the rise.

Throughout the survey four customer groups stood out, each with their own underlying concerns and characteristics: Price Watchers, Bill Managers, Info Seekers and Control Seekers.

Intelligent retailers need to take positive action to respond to these consumer groups, who feel they lack the visibility and control to do anything about rising electricity costs.

79% of Australians worry about paying their electricity bill (at least sometimes), suggesting we are tightening our purse strings and on average becoming more and more budget conscious.

Australians are persevering through the barriers to switching in their search for a better deal

While Australians haven’t been rushing to switch electricity providers to date, there are signs that the landscape is changing.

Less people are dropping out of the switching process before they do anything about it – down from 29% to 22% in 2013. And fewer people are giving up at the information searching phase – down from a 50% drop-out rate since mid 2012 to 36% drop-out rate, which suggests further engagement and commitment to switching.

Customers are now reacting to rising electricity prices like never before, with rising prices and the increased penetration of solar energy causing demand and usage to decline across Australia for the first time in decades.

Customers focused on budget and seeking more control

Australians are being driven by an increase in costs to look for a better deal in a challenging environment. With core needs driving increased switching activity, consumers are seeking ways to manage their bills and feel more in control of their daily usage.

Intelligent retailers are equipping their customers with these tools. This survey pointed to real strategies that retailers can use to respond to the four customer needs.

The Utilities findings are based on both quantitative and qualitative data collected from over 650 respondents across Australia. The series draws upon the findings of a 20-year Australian social values study, AustraliaSCAN which identifies key social trends and cultural change.

For more information please see the full report: The EY Customer Experience Series™ – Utilities

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