Utility companies are in a unique position because of the sheer amount of data they collect and the number of users they manage. This affords them opportunities to generate value in ways that other companies can't.

But this wealth of information comes with several challenges. Users have high expectations that many utility companies have yet to meet, and the prevalence of inefficient customer management systems leaves many teams vulnerable to service outages and even cyberattacks.

Using customer identity and access management (CIAM) technology can help utility companies avoid three of the industry’s most common issues:

  1. Inefficient trouble-shooting
  2. A lack of personalized service
  3. Security

Instead of tackling each with a separate set of tools and processes, a CIAM approach offers a single way to improve all three.

1. Quickly Fix Customer Access and Use Issues With a Central Dashboard.

Many utility companies have decentralized and poorly planned processses to let users access their power platform. Without a clearly defined system, utilities are more likely to feel the burden of service interruptions and suffer longer and more expensive delays in resolving them.

This can also make it difficult to help users in real time both with larger issues, such as power outages, and with simple fixes, such as password resets. Disorganization can diminish customer satisfaction and threaten a company's reputation in the industry as well as its ability to manage a large volume of users, obstructing productivity, and growth.

For companies looking to avoid these issues, a central dashboard can help consolidate previously disparate streams of information within an organization. In addition, if it's high quality, this product can, at any given moment, show which customers are logged in and provide their locations and current behavior.

Central utility customer dashboard consolidates information streams

A robust dashboard will offer several ways to visualize the information, such as with a heat map of logins, along with pictures and users' personal details to help verify and learn more about them.

Make Password Resets More Efficient

Internet users average 37 password resets a year. Without an efficient process to tackle these, a simple fix can become frustrating and time-consuming. For utilities, a dashboard is an easy way for system admins to connect directly with end users on tasks like these.

In addition to greater overall user management, a dashboard allows admins to create a specific password-reset page, which they can tailor to their company's specific needs:

Hosted login page for better password management

The tool will enable users to change their passwords independently, without the added burden of IT support. It also allows a company to maintain consistency in the appearance of all associated pages—from login through password reset and more.

This approach can also help a team track the number of password resets happening at any given moment or determine how frequently specific users are requesting resets, helping admins identify and solve larger problems, including suspicious behavior.

2. Get to know your customers.

Many believe that utilities are falling short in meeting customer needs. As many startups push the bar higher for customer success, a strong CIAM system can help buck the stereotype that established utilities aren’t innovative.

Being able to understand and meet the expectations of your customers is critical to customer retention. CIAM technology will help you paint a fuller picture of each customer. In addition to incorporating data on their logins, devices, and utility usage, you can you can use progressive profiling to pull details like their location and their email addresses and even the interests they indicated at the login stage.

Utility customer progressive profiling flow

With a more comprehensive collection of data, teams can proactively match the right users to the right promotions. It can help organizations develop new services, boost engagement, and avoid being branded as a company that sends irrelevant spam messages and push notifications.

3. Block Suspicious Behavior.

On top of helping utility companies better understand and anticipate customer needs, a secure CIAM setup is crucial in an industry facing an increase in cyber threats.

A recent IBM report found that the average cost of a data breach for a utility company was approximately $3.5 million per incident in 2016. For companies based in the United States, that number jumped to an estimated $7.4 million, and just this year, an American power company was fined an unprecedented $2.7 million for leaving customer records publicly exposed for 70 days.

CIAM offers simple but effective solutions that can help you quickly respond to suspicious behavior in your system and prevent a breach. Features like anomaly detection will instantly block users with unknown addresses or repeated failed login attempts.

Not knowing who is in your system or what information they are accessing can cause more than just fines and lawsuits: Without a strong user-management system, companies are forced to inefficiently use IT resources and even take systems off-line while searching for the source of a breach. On top of losing money, these interruptions in service can draw even more attention to your failure to secure user data.

Consolidating customer data will shape the future of utilities

The utilities industry is set to experience major shifts in the coming years thanks to new technologies and energy sources. As competition increases, companies that embrace strong access and identity technology will emerge as leaders that avoid costly mistakes and create deeper connections with their customers.

About Auth0

Auth0, a global leader in Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS), provides thousands of enterprise customers with a Universal Identity Platform for their web, mobile, IoT, and internal applications. Its extensible platform seamlessly authenticates and secures more than 1.5B logins per month, making it loved by developers and trusted by global enterprises. The company's U.S. headquarters in Bellevue, WA, and additional offices in Buenos Aires, London, Tokyo, and Sydney, support its customers that are located in 70+ countries.

For more information, visit https://auth0.com or follow @auth0 on Twitter.