Zpryme Trendz Volume 1

Welcome to the first issue of Zpryme TrendZ: a series of trend, data and customer insight newsletter issues that enrich your strategy as a utility/utility vendor. This series of trend newsletters will expound upon those non-obvious insights we’ve gleaned from how customers are living.

I’m Seyi Fabode and I’ll be curating the newsletter. I’ll be drawing from my 16 years of experience at the intersection of innovation, product and strategy focused on the utility industry.

Throughout my time in the utility sector, it’s seemed like our industry is always just a few steps behind how the customer desires to interact with us. At some point it was smart meters when customers were already reading all their financial information in apps on their tablets. At another point we focused on web based customer engagement initiatives even as over 60% (Pew Research) of the customers had moved to mobile.

And now we’re talking customer centricity and empowered customers at a point where the customers are clearly bucketing the businesses/technologies they use and interact with into two slots;

  1. Customers want time saving (Uber, one click in Amazon, voice activated everything) or
  2. time seizing (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) interactions.

Now we’re lagging behind again as we look at what the customers are already doing instead of predicting their needs and serving those needs. Why do we consistently lag behind? It’s because, for most of our strategic decisions in the utility industry, we focus only on the energy context when we need to factor in the customer’s full context. Even as companies like

  • Amazon (again) provide cashierless experiences in stores with the Amazon Go concept
  • Square provides one click loan application/approval and cash availability (because Square has business transaction history) to SMBs.
  • Motiv sells a wearable fitness ring with three full days of battery life and one hour charging time i.e you wear it practically all the time and it captures movement and health data!

Understanding their full context will prevent us from being surprised when customer issue resolution becomes harder; a customer who can walk into an Amazon Go store and grab lunch in 5 mins will not sit disgruntled on a 10 min customer service call with a rep! A small business owner, with a history of on-time payments, will definitely give a bad review or buy a backup battery from Home-Depot when a late payment isn’t handled with as much speed and understanding as a one-click loan approval for an amount that is 10X the electricity payment. And your employee will not opt-in to that wellness initiative that requires charging the wearable on a daily basis religiously.

So what’s a utility to do? It’s to think differently and stay aware of those ‘outside of our utility walls’ trends and subtle technologies that will impact our industry business model, especially as it relates to the customer. Using surveys, trend analysis and strategic frameworks Zpryme and Asha Labs will be providing a trends platform for interested utility executives. Jason and I will also host 5-10 person executive workshops where we deep dive into these trends and recommend/discuss strategic responses that the utility can consider. Email Jason.Rodriguez@Zpryme.com or Seyi.Fabode@Zpryme.com to learn more.

The next newsletter (next week), will discuss the organic nature of cities, the signals residents get from cities, how those signals spur change and we’ll share the signals residents are currently getting from cities that will impact the utility industry.

Till the next issue,

Seyi Fabode