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Consumer-Centricity: An introduction to access to information within the electricity sector (Part 1) 

Any organisation that constantly interacts with its customers to ensure a steady source of revenue, requires a customer-centric approach.  This necessitates putting the customer at the centre of all their decisions related to delivering products, services and experiences. This approach has been popular and successful in profit-making businesses because it works for customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Thus by applying the same ideology, a consumer-centric approach can be implemented in the public sector. Keeping consumers as the primary stakeholders and prioritising their needs will help entities identify areas needing improvement, and bring these up to consumers' desired levels of satisfaction.  The approach might seem irrelevant to the public sector because these are designed to meet policy requirements, legislative needs and complex government machinations rather than consumer demand. However, the public sector is no different to the private sector in that they are both intended to meet the needs of the consumer. 

Besides, businesses often prioritize their customers to achieve higher profits and establish a stronger foothold in the market. On the other hand, public sector companies aim to provide essential services to the public, regardless of their financial ability. It is worth noting that public sector companies that have a monopoly in their respective sectors without competition perform their duties with subtlety. This means that the quality of services provided to consumers is not subject to comparisons, and any shortcomings do not affect the public's perception. Despite these, it  is important for the public sector companies to understand the consumer’s value and work accordingly. 

What is a consumer-centric approach: 

A consumer-centric approach is a business strategy that prioritizes the needs and wants of the customer. It involves understanding and responding to customer behaviours, preferences, and expectations in all aspects of a business’s operations and decision-making processes. This approach often leads to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. It’s all about putting the customer at the heart of the business. This strategy is key to building long-term relationships with customers and fostering customer loyalty. It’s a way of doing business that provides a positive customer experience before and after the sale to drive repeat business, customer loyalty, and profits.

In today's competitive market, any business needs to adopt a consumer-centric approach to stay ahead of the curve. By adopting a consumer-centric approach, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors and create a sustainable competitive advantage in the long run. There are several ways to maintain a customer-centric approach in business.  Here are a few important features that have been designed to provide significant advantages to both businesses and consumers. By utilising them, businesses can enhance their operations, improve customer satisfaction, and increase profitability,  while consumers can enjoy better service and increased convenience. 

Important features that can be used in the Consumer-Centric approach:

  1. Understanding the Consumers: To create a consumer-focused business, it's important to understand a consumer's needs and preferences.  Businesses that make an effort to truly comprehend their consumers are better equipped to provide tailored solutions. 
  2. Providing Personalised Solutions: Consumers today are more informed and expect businesses to provide personalised services that cater to their specific needs. Companies that value their customers know this well and offer tailored solutions. This could be by providing customised customer support options, suggesting products based on individual preferences, and executing personalised marketing campaigns.
  3. Collecting consumer feedback: Consumer-focused businesses actively seek feedback from their customers to improve their products and services. This requires a dependable system for collecting and evaluating feedback. Businesses that prioritise consumer input are better equipped to identify areas for improvement and make strategic decisions that meet the needs of their customers. 
  4. Empowering Employees: An essential aspect of creating a business that puts the needs and preferences of consumers first is to ensure that employees are empowered to provide excellent customer service. It is crucial to equip them with the necessary resources and training to interact with consumers effectively. As employees are the first point of contact with consumers, establishing a customer service-oriented culture is essential. This culture prioritises the provision of exceptional service to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  5. Outstanding Customer Care: Delivering good customer care is not just important but crucial when it comes to adopting a customer-centric approach. Exceptional customer service can increase customer satisfaction, and promote customer loyalty. By putting the needs and wants of the customers at the forefront, businesses can create a positive and memorable experience for their customers that can lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth advertising.

Implementing a consumer-centric approach in the utilities: 

Utilities is a sector that deals with the provision of services to the public. This sector provides crucial services such as electricity, water and fuel , to customers. It has always been an essential part of public lives due to its direct involvement in fulfilling basic needs. In today's highly connected world, adopting a consumer-centric approach can bring numerous benefits to utility companies. Adopting a consumer-centric approach may offer effective solutions while maintaining profitability. Consumers no longer view utilities as mere service providers. They now see them as partners who can help them reduce their consumption and save money. By putting the consumer first, utility companies can increase consumer satisfaction levels.

In the upcoming series, we will explore the consumer-centric approach that an electricity utility company can use to improve their customer satisfaction. We will also highlight the role of making utility companies’ communication more effective in establishing a strong relationship with their consumers.

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