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Challenges of energy supply companies in scaling the energy transition

What are the 5 biggest scaling problems for energy suppliers and how can you solve them?

Climate change is clearly noticeable and the energy transition is more urgent than ever. Russia’s war against Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis are increasing demand from private households for self-sufficient electricity production and a reduction in dependence on fossil fuels. This strong interest in energy solutions and suitable tariffs actually represents enormous sales potential for energy suppliers. However, energy supply companies face several major challenges that make it difficult for them to exploit this potential and thus scale up the energy transition. The processes used to date often cannot be further accelerated and scaled.

External factors such as supply bottlenecks or the shortage of skilled workers can of course hardly, if at all, be influenced by energy suppliers. But there are many other factors that are completely within their control. And even the shortage of qualified tradespeople can be counteracted by optimizing collaboration through more efficient and time-saving processes.

In this article, you can find out what the biggest challenges are in terms of scaling and what solutions are available.

Challenge 1: High volume of requests for EDL via various channels

Customer inquiries via various channels cause a jumble of lists, emails and notes.

The demand for renewable energy solutions is growing rapidly. Many energy suppliers receive inquiries via a wide variety of channels . Interested parties can write an e-mail, call customer service, visit the customer center in person or use the contact form on the website. One problem with this is that the request data is not collected centrally and can be viewed by everyone involved in the process. Instead, a jumble of Excel lists, emails in various mailboxes, personal notes and CRM systems is created.

In addition, not all channels provide standardized data structures and formats. The manual switching between programs also causes a great loss of time and increases the susceptibility to errors in the process. There are many system breaks and manual steps within the ordering and installation processes, which significantly slow down the overall process. This leads to excessive demands on employees at the energy supply company, longer waiting times for end customers and therefore lower customer satisfaction.

Challenge 2: Lack of cross-company objectives in the energy supply company

Many energy suppliers report that their marketing and sales are not sufficiently coordinated . Although the number of inquiries is already too high, marketing is pursuing the goal of further increasing the number of leads. One of the reasons for this is to prevent the marketing budget from being restricted in subsequent years. Meanwhile, the sales department has to see how it can cope with the high number of inquiries.

Definition of goals for a company

In times of excess demand, stronger pre-qualification via marketing channels would be advisable in order to increase lead quality. This can be done, for example, by checking whether price indications match the customer’s expectations or whether the customer has sufficient creditworthiness.

Challenge 3: Long time-to-market for EDL products and lack of flexibility

Energy suppliers are coming out of the traditional electricity and gas business and want to develop energy solutions as a new business segment. However, they usually lack the necessary agility to implement innovative ideas. However, this is essential for scaling up the energy transition and achieving the targets by 2030 and beyond.

The system landscape of the energy supply companies is a major obstacle here. In most cases, the systems are completely geared towards electricity and gas. Request routes, processes, customer portals and billing are specific to electricity and gas. They leave no room for the flexible bundling of the traditional electricity and gas world with new energy solution products. As a result, the digital foundations for building an attractive product portfolio around the precise needs of customers and launching cross-selling and upselling initiatives are also lacking. Long decision-making chains and the rather low-risk mentality that many experts attribute to the German energy industry further delay the time-to-market and hinder the scaling of the energy transition.

In addition, there is a high level of dependency on agencies or IT departments when launching or iterating products. Employees of the energy supply company cannot quickly adjust products and prices themselves in response to market developments. This is because the adaptations are lengthy and costly and there is a lack of programming knowledge in the specialist area.

Challenge 4: Lack of overview for customer service and up-/cross-selling

Analysis of customer data

Many energy supply companies have the problem of not having an all-round view of their customers. The relevant data is often scattered in different places or in different systems. This fragmentation of information makes it difficult to obtain a comprehensive picture of customers.

The lack of a holistic overview has a negative impact on customer analysis, customer service and the identification of upselling and cross-selling potential. Without a complete all-round view of the customer, important connections can be overlooked. As a result, opportunities to increase sales and customer loyalty remain untapped.

Furthermore, the inconsistent and scattered data situation makes it difficult to target specific customer groups. This makes marketing campaigns and customer communication ineffective, as the messages cannot be tailored precisely to the needs and interests of the respective target groups.

Challenge 5: Reinforcing the shortage of tradespeople through inefficient processes

The current shortage of skilled workers in the skilled trades is a major problem for energy suppliers. There are considerable delays in the installation and commissioning of photovoltaic systems, heat pumps, wall boxes, etc. The tradesmen cannot keep up with the high number of orders. The employees at the energy supply company are overloaded by the time-consuming coordination tasks, the lack of an overview of the status and queries from end customers. And end customers are dissatisfied because of the long waiting time for their product.

Installer installs a solar system on a roof

Furthermore, installers are often confronted with additional bureaucratic requirements such as filling out complex paper forms. This requires time and attention that the craftsmen could better use for their actual work. Communication between energy suppliers and tradesmen is also often time-consuming and inefficient, which can lead to further delays.

Precisely because the capacities of specialists are so limited, they need to be deployed as efficiently as possible and all cooperation processes need to be optimized.

The digitalization of energy suppliers

Digitization using specialized software as a solution for energy supply companies

The challenges facing energy supply companies in scaling the energy transition are manifold. However, they can basically be broken down to inefficient processes, too little capacity and the associated overloading of employees and partners, as well as a lack of overview and use of data that is actually available.

Digitization is therefore the basis for any form of scaling. This is because only digital processes can be accelerated and “duplicated” to the required extent. There are various software solutions that are specialized for the individual tasks at energy supply companies. Alternatively, energy suppliers can also choose a holistic software platform as a central system with a standardized data structure and automated, digital processes. Such a system offers the greatest increase in efficiency and therefore a reduction in effort and costs.

How energy supply companies are mastering the specific challenges of scaling the energy transition

Digital lead qualification and faster time-to-market

The central point of contact for customers should be the energy supplier’s website, where they can enter their details themselves step by step using a special form known as an order route. In the local customer center, customers can be offered a tablet to fill out the order form. In the call center or customer service, the employee can send the customer the link to the form or use the individual steps during the phone call as a guide and fill them out themselves. This means that the data from all contact points is fed into the same system in a standardized format.

A significant advantage is that automatic data validation is possible. In this way, incorrect e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, addresses, bank details, etc. can be identified and unnecessary delays in the process minimized. For example, address data can be compared with postal directories, form fields can be limited to numerical or text entries and IBAN data can be automatically validated.

By requesting data on the house, the location or data for the credit check, the leads are pre-qualified in advance so that only qualified leads are passed on to the sales department. For example, after entering their address, prospective customers can be shown whether a wallbox is even available at the desired location. This eliminates the need for a call or e-mail from an employee at this point.

Diagram showing the realization of sales potential using a software solution for energy suppliers such as epilot

Bundled data in a central system

If the energy supply company uses a central software platform, the entire order processing and technical implementation in cooperation with installation partners can be mapped digitally once the request has been received. The preparation of quotations, the conclusion of contracts and status tracking for employees, partners and customers are automated and easily accessible via portals for everyone involved in the process. All information relevant to the respective person is bundled in one place: the digital files of the respective customers and orders as well as all documents, messages, invoices and appointments.

In this way, everyone is informed about the exact status of an order and knows what needs to be done and when with the help of digitally predefined workflows. This creates 360° transparency for employees, partners and customers. This makes it very easy to analyze and identify upselling and cross-selling potential.

All EDL, electricity and gas as well as grid processes can be combined in special software solutions as products and services in one system. Bundles such as a wallbox in combination with a traction current tariff or heat pump contracting in combination with a green electricity tariff can be flexibly created, tested and iterated. This allows the energy supply company to react quickly to market developments. If special templates are offered in the software, these can further accelerate the creation of products and prices and thus the time-to-market.

Efficient collaboration with craftsmen

As mentioned at the beginning, nothing can be done about the shortage of skilled workers. However, there is certainly an opportunity to use the available capacities far more efficiently and to increase partner satisfaction and thus loyalty through a good user experience.

Instead of analog forms, numerous phone calls and an unclear process status, special click paths and a partner/installer portal can also be offered for the energy supply company’s technical partners. There they have transparent access to all information shared with them on orders and end customers. With just a few clicks, you can track the status, provide the necessary information and clarify any queries directly in the portal. Simple digital collaboration with a good user experience gives installers more time for further orders and ensures greater satisfaction and stronger loyalty to the energy supplier.

Implementing these measures will enable the successful scaling of the energy transition.

You can find more information about the 7 software architecture principles for more sales success here.

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