By Greentech Lead Team: Approximately 57 million
customers worldwide will use social media to engage utilities in 2011.
That number is expected to rise to 624 million customers
by the end of 2017.
For power utilities the choice to ignore and avoid social
media is no longer viable. It is in the utility’s own best interest to engage
with customers in social channels and at least have a chance to steer the
“Empowered customers are not about to give up on social
media, and utilities will need to incorporate these tools as part of their
broader customer engagement programs. Smart utilities will seize the
opportunity to increase customer satisfaction when these social engagements
arise by properly staffing listening channels and preparing valuable content to
be shared,” said senior analyst Neil Strother.
Utilities participating in social media will follow a set
of best practices that includes knowing their customers’ social media
preferences and profiles, clearly defining their social media objectives and
articulating a strategy for their social media efforts, and selecting and
deploying appropriate technologies that integrate social media with existing
channels, according to Pike Research.
The growth of social media has caused utility managers to
rethink their customer relations strategies. For decades, utilities considered
their customers as ratepayers who needed to be provided with a safe and
reliable energy source.
The real boss, however, was a regulator that held
significant, if not complete, control over key utility decision-making.
Interaction with customers was essentially one-way: we, the utility, provide
the electricity; call us if you have an issue, and we will have our customer
service people look into it and let you know what we can do.
Complaints sometimes reached the regulator, but an
individual’s voice was often outshouted or ignored unless something egregious
was done by the utility. The wide-open and immediate nature of social media is
now rendering that model obsolete.