Article Energy Mobile App Development
13 February 2024

Transforming Retail Energy Companies into Consumer-Centric Powerhouses

In this week’s blog, Waracle co-founder Michael Romilly ruminates on the battleground for retail energy companies in a world of 24-7, 365 intelligent digital customer experiences and what key trends might differentiate offerings in 2024 and beyond.

We, as a company, know because we have witnessed it firsthand… that the key to retail energy success lies in the palm of customers’ hands.

The battleground is shifting, and the new frontier is AI-empowered mobile functionality and next-gen customer experience (CX). As consumers increasingly demand intelligent experiences, energy providers are recognising the need to adapt and innovate.

In this article, we’ll explore why mobile apps and seamless customer journeys have become the epicentre of competition for retail energy companies and how mid-market players can eat into the competitive advantage of the big boys.

A Relentless Customer-Centric Approach

The age of connected digital devices has empowered every consumer in the Western world, giving them the ability to evaluate, review, choose & switch energy providers in alignment with their price sensitivity, needs, preferences and values.

By having a modern, well designed and UX’d mobile app, retail energy companies have a customer channel that is in the consumers pocket or bag all day everyday. This allows energy companies to cultivate a focused customer-centric approach, offering account services and real-time insights, all to the customer’s most personal device.

Through advanced functionality like usage tracking, bill monitoring, tariff switching, web chat and energy-saving tips, companies can establish a deeper connection with their customers, enhancing overall satisfaction and loyalty.

Innovative Real-Time Monitoring and Control

One of the primary reasons mobile CX is gaining prominence in the competitive landscape is the ability to provide customers with real-time monitoring and control over their energy consumption.

As the consumer base has more access to smart metres and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, consumers can track how they are using energy, understand peak versus off-peak tarrifs, set preferences, and make informed decisions to optimise energy consumption and efficiency.

This level of control not only empowers consumers but also starts to position energy providers as partners in the future of the grid, alongside the informed consumer and as such, together we drive a sustainability agenda, which is a critical factor in the modern consumer’s decision-making process.

AI Enhanced Communication and Engagement

Mobile applications serve as a direct communication channel between energy providers and consumers.

Proactive and reactive engagement can ensure that changes to the energy supply or use, do not immediately mean increased contact centre phone calls, which can be expensive and time consuming to resolve.

By utilising push notifications, personalised messages, alerts and chatbots retail energy companies can create the kind of modern omni-channel, ubiquitous CX that can educate consumers about energy-saving practices, provide updates on service disruptions, and offer tailored, personalised promotions.

Effective communication fosters a sense of transparency and reliability, crucial elements for customer trust and NPS scores in the energy sector.

Billing Transparency and Convenience

Traditional energy bills can be confusing and lack transparency, leading to customer frustration.

Mobile apps simplify the billing process by providing clear and detailed insights into energy usage, costs, and billing cycles. Customers can easily access and understand their bills, reducing the likelihood of disputes and inquiries, thus reducing strain on traditional customer service channels such as contact centres. Additionally, integrating convenient payment options within the app streamlines the billing process, making it hassle-free for consumers.

Innovative Data-Driven Insights

The wealth of data generated through mobile app interactions provides invaluable insights for retail energy companies.

By analysing consumer behaviour, preferences, and usage patterns, companies can refine their offerings, tailor marketing strategies, focus their product optimisation and optimise operational efficiency.

Data-driven decision-making not only enhances the customer experience but also empowers energy providers to stay agile in a dynamic market environment, in which price sensitivity and perceived responsiveness are key to keeping customers happy and maintaining a long term relationship.

Seamless Integration with Smart Home Devices

The rise of smart home devices empowered by IOT has created opportunities for retail energy companies to integrate their services seamlessly into consumers’ daily lives with ambient computing power and internet connectivity.

Mobile apps can serve as centralised hubs or companion software, allowing users to manage not only their energy consumption but also connected devices such as smart thermostats, lighting systems, and appliances. This level of integration enhances the overall smart home experience, which again adds the product experience to the service experience and makes the CX feel integrated and complete.

It also helps position energy providers as integral contributors to a connected and efficient energy habits, which guide people’s lifestyle.

What can energy companies do to get ahead of the mobile app curve?

In order to provide a compelling mobile offering, energy companies need to adopt a strategic approach to mobile app development.

The best starting point is to focus on competitive analysis and understanding which feature sets other energy companies are adopting. If your current mobile app is behind the competitive curve, the first objective should be to aim for feature parity and provide the same mobile feature sets that your competitors are currently offering. This can be achieved through comprehensive competitor analysis, benchmarking against industry leaders, and incorporating user feedback into future development cycles. Regularly update your app iteratively to meet or exceed industry standards, ensuring a seamless user experience and keep on top of user reviews across the app stores using sentiment analysis.

In order to differentiate and provide new features that put you ahead of the competition, conduct market research to identify unmet consumer needs and emerging trends. Foster innovation through workshops, emphasising user-centric design. Pilot new features and embrace agile development for quick adjustments based on user feedback. Explore the integration of emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning, blockchain and IoT for comprehensive smart home solutions that go above and beyond what your competitors have to offer.

Regularly reassess the competitive landscape, adjusting strategies to stay ahead. Establish robust customer feedback channels within your app to actively seek and respond to user suggestions. This strategic blend of feature parity and differentiation ensures that energy companies not only meet consumer expectations but also anticipate and address evolving needs, helping to maintain relevance in a rapidly evolving market.

Our conclusion

In conclusion, the battleground for retail energy companies has shifted, and mobile CX has emerged as the key strategic frontier.

By adopting a customer-centric approach and focusing on mobile agility, providers can differentiate themselves across an increasingly crowded market. Energy companies that recognise and embrace the transformative power of creating a frictionless customer experience are poised to not only survive but thrive. The future of retail energy belongs to those who can meet consumers where they are – in the palm of their hands.

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Mike Romilly
Mike Romilly
Client Partner