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So, is it the consumers fault for excessive carbon emissions, littering, overuse of fuels, general pollution, environmental issues, recycling, dumping of raw sewage into rivers, the sea etc.? Is it true or are we just being guided by science in a way that makes us feel like that we are to blame? Surely, it’s our choice to travel, holiday, eat fast food, utilise one-use plastics etc. 

The “blame culture” is the passing around of these problems to deflect from the real issues, almost like a baton, we hand over the problem to the media, social media, voice of the people media, with the true intention of convincing clients to adopt a process that they suggest will cut down your carbon footprint. Most of these ideas provide a result for an idling company to point the finger at and deflect away from their environmental responsibilities…. However, let’s be honest here, not all companies, countries or people are the same.

So again, thinking about Net-Zero, and reducing our carbon emissions, why did we move historically to some pretty short stop solutions and not thought-out strategies; plastic hygienic containers, plastic film sealed packaging, PPE masks in food production, some quality, and safety standards equipment in food preparation, sell-by dates for quality rather than eat ability, quality kit marks for authentication etc… 

Really the long game is all about knowing what is in your food, reducing food-related illness, shelf-life, how it’s been produced, fair value/quality and authenticity of the goods. It’s also about tracking and tracing the origins of the products you use most, supply and storage of your food, but more importantly than anything else, it’s about knowing what is true to the spirit of convenience versus sheer laziness to consume – ie. you do not have to go out and produce or make it yourself. 

Product innovation or re-invention is the key to success and companies that relook at their products and factor in the Net-Zero element but at the same time think about the total ideation to commercialization process will succeed as they work smartly on the best ideas/products through a quicker overall consensus of what good is from the perspective of the business,  the stakeholders and the product developers, who are all aligned to the same Net-Zero strategy and objective.   

So, the Net-Zero momentum or story could just start again from the beginning by using glass bottles, aluminium cans, tin cans, and paper bags thus removing the use of plastic-based trays, plastic bags, and plastics-based sealing of all types. Also, checkout recycled containers with a more technological design for the same convenience and ease of collection, plus think about carrying and use, maybe wash and reuse is an option but whatever we do it needs to be carbon-free in production and use. 

This approach must compliment your wellbeing and further afield have a positive effect on the public health, by;

  • Decreasing waste 
  • Reducing production volumes
  • Indirectly reducing emissions in production. 

With today’s throwaway culture, we on the main look for the best deals, the most cost-efficient options, or the options that we can afford. These options are dutifully picked up by companies using long supply lines that produce the goods in far off countries where pollution and production issues are handled far away from our prying eyes. The whole integrated logistics journey of the product is an immense undertaking, it involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation (e.g., rail, ship, aircraft, and truck), without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes and its carbon footprint is not always factored in. 

This “Reimagining” of the supply chain reduces cargo handling, and so improves security, reduces damage and loss, and allows freight to be transported faster with less interruption in the journey including a full track and trace capability. Imagine being able to see your goods at all stages in the journey for peace of mind but also for real-time awareness.  “Reimagining logistics” to Meet Business Demand. A logistics chain that traditionally uses a very large amount of carbon to move its goods in bulk around the world could at the request of a customer or company be re-routed to gain a preferential delivery time/access to these goods by focusing on a Net-Zero footprint but still at the right price.

As we think forward into Net-Zero related to Energy and Utilities, the consumer experience is critical, with the growth of approved and potentially other viable energy suppliers, which has led to additional choice, choice in this sector sometimes seems difficult to explain. However, the small energy companies can be very responsive and provide applications for your phone and some very useful online information as a constant input. If you sign up to their newsletters and articles you get a constant stream of interesting topics that allow you to understand better your challenges including topics like which boiler to choose from, what type of lighting, how and what to recycle etc. 

OK, so what is the point, the point is we should continue to request a better service or start to request more loyalty and respect from our Energy and Utility companies. Use comparison sites, demand quality applications, better Smart meters, better pricing and at the same time we should take the responsibility to point out to our supplier their weaknesses and failings via official bodies and feedback surveys rather than just moving on to another supplier. Having your say when you move suppliers get registered more intently by those businesses than any other time as they are constantly looking and reviewing consumer trends.

Today’s customers expect a more personalised experience, rather than impersonal touchpoints, they expect meaningful interactions with companies, especially when it comes to their energy. Traditional methods of customer service don’t foster that relationship, which is why utilities need to develop a customer-centric strategy that starts with a thorough understanding of their customer’s journey. This can be achieved as we have at Birlasoft by focusing on CX or customer experience software that leverages machine learning (ML) and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), AI-powered chatbots that can understand the intent behind your customers’ requests, account for each customer’s entire conversation so that it can interact correctly and responding in a natural way or even in a human way. 

In the world of Energy and Utilities, the consumer or customer services always seem to be about interaction, about your challenges and problems i.e., gas leak (fast response), electric power out (medium response unless you are vulnerable then a priority of vulnerability applies), water-related to both supply and sewage is slow it seems (Yorkshire Water’s slow response to the leak in busy town unacceptable – Yorkshire Post Letters, 17th August 2021).

Customers or consumers like me are becoming far more expectant of good service, responsiveness, price match, and loyalty from the company as we are now very used to online delivery services, price matching, and what constitutes good or bad service experiences but the customer, in many cases, knows their rights and will happily move provider even over the smallest of factors or issues. Getting customers to self-service is realistic and in practice, it’s about providing an incentive, either through free days of power, remote safety checks or reduced costs for coffee or meals but the real reason is to drive traffic to the portal/website/app to request meters readings or data that would provide a service option. All the while the focus is to gain customer satisfaction that will lower the supplier’s costs around workforce, increases profit margins, increases customer satisfaction but it may move the responsibilities, risk and blame to the customer which is the downside from a consumer point of view.

So today, as we move providers based on social, economic and media pressure, we move into an era of reduced carbon by perhaps driving less or using fewer polluting modes of transport. Also, we are adopting lower energy lighting, less energy waste in our entertainment or sports watching, cooking methods have adapted to lower waste, lower carbon footprint and fresher ingredients stored in reusable and/or recyclable containers. We are also focusing now on our wellbeing, family’s health, our friends, and colleagues to perhaps show more interest in our own environment and in the same way breathe focus on what our suppliers can do to change based on our personal needs.

Net Zero (Political, Technology, Willingness for change) is just one of many topic’s we will discuss at the Disruptive 2021 Autumn Event…. https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6843798078433054721/

Executive Pay tied to sustainability – https://www.linkedin.com/posts/pblack_sustainability-   digitalization-carbonfootprint-activity-6775832228082663424-M9ci

By Michael Foote

At Birlasoft we have been addressing through our client and consumer interactions topics around Future energy, Sustainability, IoT/ smart devices, Worker health and safety, Customer Experience, Disaster Recovery / Incident Management along with topics such as conditional maintenance, smart meters, EV, and battery initiatives etc.

Read more from Michael Foote