New Ernst & Young LLP Power & Utilities’ advisors to specialize in smart grid and customer engagement
Dallas, 14 November 2011 — Utilities across the globe are expected to invest as much as $200 billion in smart grid projects by 2015. In response, Ernst & Young LLP announced that two leaders in the utilities industry have joined the firm with extensive experience in helping those companies improve customer satisfaction and deploy new smart technology.
Stephen Thiel has more than 20 years’ experience in business transformation and strategy. Now an Executive Director with Ernst & Young LLP’s Advisory Services Power & Utilities practice, Mr. Thiel has helped utility clients develop smart grid roadmaps, demand response strategies, operational improvements, approaches to enhance energy trading, and has helped deploy new smart technology for utility clients.
Catherine Zhou, a Principal in the Advisory Services Power & Utilities practice, brings over 15 years’ experience advising companies on how to manage customers, drive satisfaction and improve business performance. She leads customer experience transformation projects, leveraging digital media, marketing and business intelligence.
“One of the messages we have heard consistently from our clients is that they need guidance on how to better engage with consumers,” said Dana Hanson, Advisory Services Power & Utilities Leader. “Stephen and Catherine both have proven track records of helping utilities improve customer satisfaction and deploying new smart technology.”
The global Ernst & Young organization recently surveyed the heads of household in 13 countries about their understanding of smart technology and their appetite for smart-enabled services. “The Rise of the Smart Customer” found:
- Consumers around the world have a neutral to poor relationship with energy suppliers. Many complained of poor customer service and issues with billing, which is a challenge for utilities pursuing smart projects.
- Consumers acknowledge that suppliers are dependable, but utilities are viewed as having lower customer service ratings compared to other home service industries.
- Consumers are optimistic about controlling energy and saving money with smart meters, but have concerns about privacy and the financial benefits.
- Consumers are reluctant to purchase other services from energy suppliers and need to see a credible brand before investing in smart services.
Thiel, Zhou and others on Ernst & Young LLP’s Power & Utilities team focus on these findings.
Prior to joining Ernst & Young LLP, Thiel was the Smart Grid Leader for IBM Global Business Services. He also has worked for EPRI, FAME, Entergy and Glaxo Pharmaceuticals. Thiel received his MBA from Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Zhou worked at Accenture prior to joining Ernst & Young LLP. She specialized in customer experience and digital analytics. She is the co-author of The Social Media Management Handbook. Zhou has a MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
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