The market for new retail energy providers to expand customer choice is larger than ever before and expanding. Thirty-one states currently have some form of deregulation, with more expected to follow.
Yet as the market grows, so have the regulatory complexities. Public utilities commissions (PUCs) have more authority to crack down on any claims perceived as being misleading and incorrect or incomplete customer information, whether intentional or not.
The terms and conditions energy service providers are required to disclose to customers are extensive and vary by state and market. Due to the added burden of meeting these requirements, the time to enter a new market ranges from several weeks to several months.
To energy service companies eager to expand their customer base, time is money—and every day of delay is a missed opportunity for revenue.
Here are four recommendations all energy retailers should follow to get to market faster.
1. Determine an Appropriate Channel Strategy
Just as it’s crucial to offer the right products at a competitive price, you need a solid strategy for distributing them. Some companies use a network of aggregators, brokers or associations to do the heavy lifting for them, while others rely more heavily on direct sales.
What works well in one market may be less successful in others. Take the time to evaluate your channel strategy with each new market, and be willing to adapt.
2. Pay Attention to Third-Party Vendors
If you use call centers or other third-party vendors to manage customer service, your company is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the third party provides all the correct information and disclosures to your customers. Failure to do so could result in complaints from state public utility commissions, fines and even the potential to be locked out of an entire market.
Before you enter a new market, take the time to review internal protocols—including call center scripts—to ensure they meet specific guidelines for that state.
3. Automate Manual Processes For Regulatory Communications
Many companies have an entire team responsible for managing customer contracts and ensuring delivery of all required documents within 48 hours. This is not only time-consuming, it’s also risky. A single mistake can be compounded thousands of times over in mass mailings.
Automation decreases this risk while increasing your company’s efficiency, allowing you to enter new markets more quickly.
4. Increase Document Visibility
Ensuring compliance for regulatory communications is just as important for your marketing department as it is for operations. Many campaign documents include state-specific disclaimers that need to be updated, reviewed and approved by the legal department. This adds a layer of complexity to multi-state and multi-channel marketing campaigns.
A shared workflow management system enables marketing or operations documents to be updated quickly and easily, with all revision history saved and tracked. Sales reps and other key stakeholders can upload a single document and easily see who has reviewed it and what changes have been made.
DATA Communications Management offers seamless document management for regulatory communications through a single, secure digital engine that uses logic to automate manual processes.
Customers input terms and conditions for each market, followed by customer data that is sorted, validated and matched with the appropriate information. From there, they can establish workflows to create, print and deliver the right information to the right customers through our printing and fulfillment center.
Adopting an automated process saves time, internal resources and costs.
It’s also a low-cost way to mitigate risks that can lead to expensive fines or the potential for lost revenue due.
To learn more about how our company can help yours reach new markets faster while mitigating compliance risks, download our whitepaper, “Minding Your Ts and Cs: 5 Proven Strategies for Mitigating Risk.”