Customer experience is about connecting people with resources. Electric power, water, natural gas, heat, meters, service technicians or appliances, heat pumps, solar panels, electric vehicles, charging stations, smarter homes: the list of often essential resources is growing steadily, raising the question of how to connect people to them.

Interconnection is the first aspect of the intelligent SAP Customer Experience (SAP CX) portfolio, bringing operational and contextual data to the individual engagement.

In a changing world, both customers and utilities are forced to adapt:

  • The customer has unprecedented access to smart devices
  • Energy and water providers are asking consumers for usage flexibility and conservation
  • Programs are available and mandated to support home and business owners with decarbonization investments
  • The utility is deeply involved in distributed electric generation, energy storage, and decarbonization

Staying connected constantly with customers is a critical factor for succeeding in the energy transition.

Globally, utilities have been driven to expand and shift, and there is no end in sight. While energy and water suppliers must embrace sustainability goals, the industry is developing new business models. Utilities are becoming retailers for commodity and non-commodity offerings. To their consumers, the utility is a trusted partner and welcome advisor when investing in home energy and storage or electric transportation, or simply subscribing to bundled home service offerings for energy, water, telecommunication, transportation, and other services.

This means that a utility company faces what seems to be contradicting goals: optimizing classic customer operations for stable and reliable energy and water supply, while at the same time innovating the customer experience with speed.

To meet these two important goals — optimize and innovate — companies are specifically demanding better customer solutions.

On the one hand, customer service must maintain, if not improve, customer satisfaction while lowering cost-to-serve. Automation of manual tasks, digital channels, and process excellence are key. On the other hand, innovating customer experience can be tricky for a utility. Traditionally, especially in regulated markets, the energy and water supplier did not need to focus on nurturing customer relations and growing a market share. Time-to-market, digital storefronts, and third-party collaboration can be challenging for the classic utilities culture. Consumer technology has grown rapidly. People now come with smart devices and expectations, and are used to seamless shopping experiences.

To be competitive, utilities must learn and adopt best practices from other industries, including retail, electronics, and automotive. Introducing new products and services requires a state-of-the-art marketing and sales execution setup.

Customers expect individual — and respectful — communications and offerings. Insight is the next aspect in the SAP Customer Experience portfolio, with timely, meaningful, and predictive data to anticipate, support, and optimize customer interactions. A best-of-suite business solution with end-to-end process for lead to cash and service request to resolve enables both, optimizing the back office and innovating the front office.

“Our utilities customers have the goal to build customer intimacy and involve their respective end customers in the energy transition journey, including them becoming energy generators and contributors to the grid as well,” says Daniela Sellmann, global vice president and head of the Utilities Industry Business Unit at SAP. “This can only be achieved if the front and back office come together to get a 360-degree view of the end customers. That is why we strategically invest in our customer experience solution for utilities.”

SAP is unmatched in combining enterprise resource planning (ERP) with CX solutions in the industry context. CX includes several applications, connecting service, sales, marketing, e-commerce, and customer data on a solid and flexible platform. SAP’s continued focus on delivering and innovating industry-tailored CX solutions is visible both in the current product portfolio and road maps.

With the new version of SAP Service Cloud, launched in 2022, utilities customer service teams in the office, on the road, and at home can easily connect to their customers. A redesigned agent desktop runs at greater speed, scalability, and availability. The add-on for utilities extends SAP Service Cloud with native integration to meter to cash in the SAP for Utilities portfolio, the core of energy and water back-office processes.

SAP Sales Cloud equips sales teams with the right tools in today’s complex selling environment. When used in combination, SAP Service Cloud and SAP Sales Cloud can increase  return on investment (ROI) significantly.

Innovative products require an online presence, which is where SAP Commerce Cloud, subscription management add-on, delivers a store front and e-commerce platform suited and ready for any utility offering.

SAP Emarsys Customer Engagement is the new marketing solution to personalize interactions and SAP has an exciting road map for utilities-specific analytics and tactics, with pre-built content for listening to signals during customer journeys and context-sensitive responses.

The partner ecosystem plays a critical role delivering SAP Customer Experience solutions, not only with implementation services but also enhancing SAP offering with apps; for example, through SAP store.

“We now have more than 14 apps built for SAP for Utilities and CX, covering multiple scenarios for customer data, service, sales, marketing, deregulation, or CPQ and product management to meet specific needs,”says Edgar Kauter, managing director at Power Reply Germany. “As an industry cloud partner, we see SAP’s investment in CX and the industries and we value the innovation. Utilities can easily see how the standard SAP portfolio, together with our standardized apps and implementation services, provides not only a quicker time to value, but also cost-efficient processes.”

A seamless customer experience requires a seamless organization and a seamless solution. Any integrated front office and back office requires adaptive measures, the third aspect of  intelligent CX from SAP. Adaption means that feature-rich SAP applications can be personalized, extended, integrated, and composed with other apps; for example, industry cloud partners.

SAP is on a mission to help make utilities businesses more customer-centric. Discover intelligent CX solutions for utilities that are interconnected, insightful, and adaptive on sap.com, and explore road maps to discover how SAP plans to improve the integration design of sales orders for utilities commodity contracts in SAP S/4HANA here.

Robert Straubinger is chief solution expert for Solution Management Utilities at SAP.