Survey Says Despite Confusion, Energy Retailers Embracing CRM

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Most utilities and energy companies -- 60 percent-- report having a customer relationship management program in place, despite widespread confusion among those companies as to what constitutes CRM, according to a study released last week by Chartwell Inc., an Atlanta-based energy industry information source.


The study, called "Chartwell Customer Relationship Management Report," also found that 59 percent of those without a CRM program rank its development as very important or important to their overall business strategy.


In addition, the study found that the use of CRM tools will soon spread to nearly all energy retailers - and in particular, the utility industry will flock to data-mining tools. Currently 29 percent of utilities mine customer data, but 25 percent are planning to do so and another 14 percent are considering this strategy.


Other findings from the study included:


Integrating billing with other customer data ranked No. 1 in importance.


40 percent of utilities surveyed are collecting data in one data warehouse so it can be used to facilitate decision-making.


50 percent of utilities surveyed are currently improving call center operations and gathering customer data via the call center.


31 percent are using sales-force automation.


42 percent are providing customers Web-based access, and 16 percent of those respondents are gathering data from those interactions.


54 percent are partaking in segmentation and dividing customers into homogenous groups.


35 percent are using database marketing and/or targeting marketing programs to reach various segments.


The findings were based on a survey of professionals at 100 leading energy companies, including Sempra, Duke Power, Northeast Utilities and Memphis Light, Gas & Water.
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