Road to excellence – Florida Power Light: An insight into the customer experience strategy of the US’s most successful utilities brand
Florida Power and Light Company, known as FPL, is a utilities brand serving more than 4.5 million customers in North America. Sitting in 31st place of the 2015 US CEE analysis (the only utilities company to feature in the top 100 for both the US and UK), it is one of the more successful brands, with a customer experience strategy that creates a real buzz amongst its customers. As such, it stands as a fine example for utilities brands on both sides of the pond.
FPL was born in 1925, when a number of smaller, local companies clubbed together to provide power services to the communities of Jacksonville and North-Eastern Florida. Today, it has more than 8,000 employees and holds power generation assets in more than 20 US states. With such a wide customer base, it is vital for companies like FPL to deliver a high standard of customer experience, and achieve high scores across The Six Pillars.
This is something FPL has been successful in doing. Its service reliability is a staggering 99.98 percent, and in 2014, the brand was recognised as the ‘most trusted’ US electric utility company by Market Strategies International, earning the prestigious ServiceOne Award for outstanding customer service for the 10th year in a row.
Much of this success can be traced back to the brand’s solid customer experience strategy. FPL shows a particular commitment to green and ethical issues, fuelling FPL’s score in the pillar of Integrity. “We’re making foreign oil a foreign concept by tearing down older plants and building cleaner, more efficient ones that run on lower cost ‘Made in America’ natural gas. [We’re] building plants that are 33 percent more efficient and 90 percent cleaner than the ones they’re replacing. That’s an energy future that’s good for all of us.” Trust, after all, is an important part of customer experience management, and any company hoping to score highly in the CEE rankings should pay particular attention to the pillar of Integrity; if customers trust a brand, they’re much more likely to recommend it.
“FPL are a good company,” said one customer. “They seem to be keeping prices down and I hope they continue R&D into alternative fuels.”
And whilst FPL works very hard to earn its customers trust, its approach is sincere, with scores in the pillars of Personalisation and Empathy indicating a healthy degree of success. “It’s all about you,” it tells its customers. “It’s how we start each brand new day. Looking for ways to change things for the better… Finding ways to keep your energy bills low. It’s our promise to you. Because we don’t just work here. We live here too.” FPL goes to a great deal of effort to see things from the customers’ perspective, emphasising that it understands its customers’ lifestyles and financial concerns. Moreover, it knows how much they rely on power, and appreciates the inconvenience of trying to operate in a powerless home or office. “We continuously invest in our system to ensure your lights are on, your equipment is running and your doors stay open,” FPL says. “Over the last three years, we’ve improved service reliability for businesses by 28 percent. We’re not stopping there.”
Indeed, one of the brand’s latest innovations is that of smart meters, digital devices that measure customers’ electricity via a secure wireless network. They enable users to see how much energy they are using by the hour, day or month, and this information can be accessed online via a custom dashboard, or over the telephone. FPL’s intention is to enable customers to have more control over their personal finances and energy requirements, in a manner that is bespoke, easy-to-use, and trustworthy.
Its passion for personalisation and reliability appears to be paying off. One customer stated that they’d experienced “no problem with FPL in who knows how long, including 2004-2005 hurricane season,” and they’d had “very few interruptions compared to customers of other companies.” This is undoubtedly the case for many of its users – to land in 31st place in the customer experience excellence rankings is an outstanding achievement, and one that many other companies could learn from.
Stephen Harwood, Nunwood’s Client Experience Director, believes FPL’s strategy is key to its success. “Florida Power and Light Company has a customer experience strategy that is second to none,” he says. “Showing particular aptitude in the pillars of Personalisation and Empathy, FPL is a brand that puts the customer in the driving seat, and arrives at its destination every time. Utility and energy companies in both the US and the UK can learn a lot from its insightful and prolific approach.”