As the world’s economy experiences drastic changes, the day-to-day operations of the energy industry are becoming more complex. And while these complexities aren’t new, today’s fuel dealers are investing in contemporary solutions to improve customer service and ensure the health of their businesses.
The Cargas 2023 Tech Trends Benchmarking Report explores software and hardware investments that have had the greatest impact on fuel dealers. By comparing this year’s data to what we’ve gathered over the past four years, we have noticed three trends that speak volumes about how fuel delivery companies have found success in times of uncertainty.
1. Give Customers Control with Self-Service Tools
The energy industry is still recovering from the digital shift of 2020. While in-person communications have made a comeback, customers and fuel dealers alike seem content with virtual communication strategies. A significant reason for this is the rise in self-sufficiency tools geared toward customers.
E-commerce capabilities, such as online bill pay, automatic payments and budget plan enrollments, give customers more financial flexibility. Almost 94% of fuel company respondents accept credit cards or electronic payments, giving customers more ways to pay for service. Customers can also use web portals to make fuel delivery and service requests or manage accounts with the click of a button. Compared to 2022, e-commerce tool offerings increased for fuel delivery customers. While companies cut back on self-service tools offered through company websites, third-party web portals and mobile apps grew in popularity.
Customer demand for digital communications is still a reality for fuel delivery companies because customers want convenience above all else. Expanding amenities is one way fuel delivery companies can give customers the gold-star experience they deserve. With 90% of respondents relying on exceptional service as a customer retention tool, keeping a pulse check on the needs and expectations of a rapidly evolving customer base is vital.
That’s why it is unsurprising to see a rise in social media as a tool to recruit and retain customers, with more than one-third of respondents investing time in apps like LinkedIn and Facebook.
2. Save Time Where It Matters with Automation
In a time when supply chain disruption, industry regulation and inflation impact everyday business decisions, fuel delivery companies continue to embrace new technology. Today’s fuel dealers let technology handle tedious bulk work, giving companies more time to cultivate rich customer relationships.
One of the most popular automation investments of the past few years is tank monitoring technology, with 70% of 2023 survey respondents deploying or spending more on tank monitors. Last year, only 56% of respondents increased investments in tank monitors. Companies use tank monitors to exceed several business goals, from improving delivery efficiency and reducing runouts to enhancing customer satisfaction and gaining more accurate usage and demand forecasts.
And when it’s time for drivers to hit the road, automated communication with customers and the back office keeps everyone connected. Real-time mobile technology is a powerful tool that has become more important as routes and customer needs become more complex. Automatic route updates help fuel dealers stay flexible as fill and maintenance requests come in, while automated customer messages provide instant access to important appointment information.
3. Remain Curious About the Future
The most successful fuel dealers we surveyed in 2023 remain forward-thinking, even in times of great uncertainty. While there are concerns about the state of the economy, hiring and retention, and keeping customers happy, successful fuel dealers balance tough decision-making with excitement for what’s around the corner.
After all, if technology can improve customer satisfaction, delivery efficiency and forecasting, it may also be able to offset fluctuating prices and supply chain disruption.
Just over 77% of respondents are satisfied with the software available for the energy industry as of 2023, an 8% decrease from 2022. And even though dissatisfaction and discord have increased, we still noticed a keen interest in the future from many respondents. Even with inflation and economic concerns, energy companies continue to invest in tech.
Despite tech investments skyrocketing among energy companies over the past few years, we anticipate a plateau in 2023. It is not that the industry does not want software, but rather that many companies will be conservative to offset current market trends and continue offering exceptional customer service.
A plateau does not mean that companies will stop caring about what the future holds; in fact, it means the complete opposite. Fuel dealers will be particular about the software they invest in, and the companies that develop and support that software will need to prove their solutions offer high enough value to be worth the investment.
Technology is still a top priority for energy, so we expect fuel dealers to focus on maximizing the return they get on their technology investments while preparing for significant changes in the future. Companies like Cargas are committed to developing new features to bolster energy business capabilities and ensure investments in technology build value over time.
Want to learn more about what the future holds for fuel delivery companies like yours? Check out the 2023 Tech Trends report and discover what’s coming your way.