Get to Know the Benefits of Customer Utility Data
As consumer-permissioned data continues to grow in popularity, it’s essential to understand that it goes beyond the world of banking and lending. We can’t forget about the role utility data plays in energy management and procurement. Finding the right ways to access customer data is critical to maintaining customer trust and internal security. Let’s explore why businesses often seek out customer utility data and the best methods for them to access it.
Benefits of Acquiring Customer Utility Data
Data in itself is powerful, but utility data can unlock a world of information. With consumer utility data, companies across several industries have the opportunity to personalize and improve their customer experiences. The first step is recognizing the value in accessing customer utility data and its various benefits:
1. Drive revenue growth and improve the customer experience
Utility data has been an underused resource when it comes to the solar sales cycle. Installers can use a solar shopper’s utility data to determine their monthly electricity usage, projected ROI, and whether they’re the right candidate for solar. Finding an automated way to access this data will improve efficiency and accelerate the lead qualification process, ultimately reducing customer acquisition costs. This can also enhance the customer experience by generating a more accurate ROI estimate in less time.
Additionally, customer utility data can provide the same benefits for the retail energy market, which has seen steady growth in the past couple of years. With customer utility data, energy retailers can better analyze their customers’ behavior and needs, offer more products that align with their interests, and demonstrate the monthly savings achieved through their services. Being able to show the customer all of their utility bills in one place also improves the customer experience and gives retailers a competitive advantage.
2. Increase energy savings
Access to customer utility data is foundational to an energy management or procurement service. Only with the monthly utility bill can businesses prove to their customers how much they’ve saved in costs and reduced in emissions. Streamlining the process for acquiring this data from customers will likewise improve customer retention and trust.
Automated access to customer bills can also open up new avenues for revenue, such as additional services for bill payment, benchmarking, or audits. By providing one place where customers can see all of their consumption, energy service providers can expand on the services they offer and create a true one-stop-shop for the end user.
Methods of Accessing Customer Utility Data
Now that we’ve established the value in accessing customer utility data, let’s examine the different methods. Whether businesses are trying to better understand their customers or offer new products and services, utility data has several uses. Selecting the right method of accessing this data can make or break your long-term operational efficiency.
1. EDI feeds
Electronic data interchange (EDI) takes a step towards automation by eliminating paper invoices and electronically transferring customer utility data. The B2B electronic exchange helps to ensure accuracy for businesses. However, its lack of coverage and standardization can hinder processes. With only 12 percent of utility providers offering free EDI feeds, access is limited across a broader geography. EDI also does not deliver the original bill image, which prevents service providers from reviewing or consolidating past bills.
Optical character recognition (OCR) provides a semi-automated method for accessing customer utility data. The multi-step process does not guarantee 100 percent accuracy, especially without any human intervention. Risking impartial processed data is not an option for today’s companies. Instead, Urjanet’s cloud-based platform can fit the needs of today’s digital reality.
As you figure out the best method for accessing customer utility data, you want to ensure that these electronic processes are not making errors along the way. What starts a simple misplaced zero can cause huge discrepancies in energy or cost analysis. Solidifying a robust and reliable platform at the start of your process helps avoid errors down the line.
3. Directly from the customer
Collecting data directly from consumers is the most accurate method – as long as it’s done securely. Requesting utility account credentials through email or spreadsheets would put customers on pause. A 2019 Pew Research Study highlights that 79 percent of Americans are concerned about how companies are using their data. That’s why companies must ensure that consumer-permissioned data is secured.
79% of Americans are concerned about how companies are using their data.
If businesses want to maintain strong customer relationships, customer data protection must come first. Using a secure interface like Urjanet Connect, which mirrors the utility website experience, can enable providers to easily access customer data with industry-leading security safeguards.
Easily access customer utility data with Urjanet
Choosing the right process can be tricky. Small businesses may find EDI sufficient if they only need data from a few providers, while others may look for a more global solution. Regardless of the process, accuracy and security must be guaranteed when acquiring customer utility data. Urjanet’s best-in-class encryption enables us to help keep user-permissioned data safe and secure as we verify and collect data directly from the source.
Accessing customer utility data can be made easy with the right technology. Speak with one of our experts today to learn how to get started.
You might also be interested in:
- 3 Reasons Retail Energy Providers Should Own the Customer Relationship
- How to Use Urjanet Connect
- Solutions Sheet: Utility Data for Retail Energy
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About Honor Donnie
Honor Donnie is a Marketing Intern at Urjanet, with a passion for content creation. When she’s not at Urjanet, she can be found studying Political Science at Clark Atlanta University.