The Customer Experience of Energy Services

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Conference Proceedings
Authors: Claas DigmayerNina RußkampEva-Maria Jakobs

Abstract: Climate protection and the limited availability of conventional energy sources have led to efforts to facilitate a transition to renewable sources. This trend also changes the way in which electricity is consumed and distributed: Recently, end-users have taken an increasingly active role in the electrical power system that enables a collective form of energy self-consumption and sharing - so-called ‘energy communities’ [1]. In these communities, energy is generated with solar or wind technologies and distributed between members using local grids and community battery storages.The diffusion of energy communities on a large scale could provide advantages such as increasing customers’ electricity savings, electricity suppliers' sales, and grid operators' revenues due to reduced grid tariffs for inner-community electricity transfer [2]. A barrier to a large-scale rollout is the fact that energy often remains invisible to most citizens and is merely perceived in terms of ‘energy services’ ("[…] functions performed using energy which are means to obtain or facilitate desired end services or states" [3]). This focus on energy services can give rise to a wide range of information needs but also to different attitudes in the evaluation of energy communities from the perspective of potential customers. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze whether companies address such requirements in order to establish a positive customer experience.In this study, the topic is operationalized through three research questions:Communication from the company's point of view: How are energy communities advertised by companies that support customers in implementing them? Information needs from the customer's perspective: What do potential customers want to know about energy communities?The questions are examined in a comparative analysis based on text mining methods. For this purpose, data were collected from two types of sources: Comments from social media addressing energy communities and promotional in which companies communicate energy communities to potential customers. Both data sets were analyzed with regard to the research questions.The results show a mismatch between what customers want to know about energy communities and what companies communicate about such forms of energy production and distribution. In particular, risks perceived by potential customers (such as concerns about the equitable distribution of energy) are hardly addressed. By resolving such mismatches, the diffusion of energy communities could be accelerated. The results are discussed in terms of possible measures to enhance the customer experience.References[1] Iazzolino, G./Sorrentino, N./Menniti, D./Pinnarelli, A./De Carolis, M./ Mendicino, L. (2022). Energy communities and key features emerged from business models review.Energy Policy, 165. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2022.112929.[2] Fina, B./Monsberger, C./Auer, H. (2022). A framework to estimate the large-scale impacts of energy community roll-out. Heliyon, 8 (7). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e09905.[3] Fell, M. J. (2017). Energy services: A conceptual review. Energy Research & Social Science, 27, 129–140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2017.02.010

Keywords: Energy communities, customer experience, communication design

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003780

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