Customer Research for the Energy/Mining Industry
How to use Surveys for the Energy/Mining Industry

Industry surveys are surveys tailored toward a particular field. They are a valuable tool for any organization. Industry surveys can help you gain insights into your market, improve your products or services, meet your customer needs, and identify emerging trends ahead of the competition. They can also be used as excellent marketing materials when published.

Traditionally, industry surveys have been carried out by consulting companies, including McKinsey, Forrester, and Gartner. However, many organizations have recently started to do their own surveys as these can be excellent tools.

Even better, you do not have to be an expert research analyst before you can create an excellent survey. Thanks to tools like SurveyOL, anyone can implement an industry survey from start to finish.

However, before you create an energy industry survey, you need to have concrete aims and objectives for doing so. Therefore, below are some of the questions you should ask yourself.

1.    Why do I want to create this survey?

Often, organizations create surveys without knowing precisely what they want to uncover. A survey will usually uncover insights such as industry trends, consumer choice, market realities, employee satisfaction, etc. You must have a list of objectives to create a survey.
Furthermore, it would be best to think about how you want to use the information after collection. Will the data be distributed in a report format? Do you intend to use it internally to shape your future service offering? These are crucial questions you should answer.

2.    Who is my ideal respondent?

The information you garner from a survey only reflects the people you have asked for input. If you want to know the electricity consumption of large households, asking single people to respond to your survey would be off-target. You have to develop a way to ask the right people how they pay for and use electricity.

One of the best ways to administer a survey, using the example of a large household, is to define what you mean by large. Is it four or six people living in a unit? Then, you should include it as the first question in your survey. For example, how many of you love in the same apartment (1, 2-3, 4-5, more than 5)? This way, you can quickly screen out irrelevant responses.

The Energy Industry at a Glance

The Energy sector is a broad market that includes mining, renewables, and several other forms of power generation. The mining markets include quarrying, mining, and crude extraction companies. In this sector, companies extract natural resources, including coal, crude, and natural gas. Therefore, the term "mining" encompasses a broad range of activities, such as well operations, crushing, flotation, and other activities carried out on a mine site.

For more than a century, the mining sector has driven much of the growth experienced in the global economy by making energy cheaper and more accessible. In return, energy companies have benefited from the growth. Prior to the tech boom of the late 1990s, ExxonMobil was more or less regarded as the most powerful and the most valuable company on the planet. Today, however, there is an institutional battle against energy companies. However, even though they have pivoted into clean fuel, the energy sector is set to take most of the blame for climate change and its consequences.

While the sector continues to grow in terms of revenue and oil price keeps fluctuating, the competition in the energy sector is quite high as investors and significant players have their eyes on investment opportunities.

In recent years, the energy sector has witnessed high price fluctuations from a barrel of oil being sold for less than $0 (during the height of the coronavirus lockdown in 2020) to selling for less than $30 throughout 2016. Although prices have recently rebounded, it is still unknown whether the sector will experience high prices for its commodity as in 2016.

There could be several reasons for this, including lower demand from China, the proliferation of renewables for domestic use, fracking in the USA (which has made it self-sufficient), and overproduction by some non-OPEC member states.

Survey questions can be tailored to understand your respondents' opinions on green or renewable energy. The survey aims to identify what the audience thinks about renewable energy and why they prefer it to fossils or crude.

The need for using renewable energy sources, particularly for domestic consumption, has been highlighted for decades. Renewables help our quest for sustainable development. It also minimizes the effect that mining has on our natural resources and climate. Although coal and crude oil still account for most energy sources in developed and developing nations, renewable sources have been gradually implemented.

Survey Questions for the Energy Sector

In administering questions, it is essential to avoid yes or no questions for most of the survey. For one reason, they may tell you which option is preferred, but they fail to give you any insights. The purpose of carrying out a survey is to gain insights, not just pick a side of the coin.

The following survey questions should give you insights into what your customer thinks. Some of the questions have been scaled (on a scale of 1-5) where 1 equals least likely, while 5 equals most likely. A respondent who selects 3 indicates being indifferent or average.

1.    How much do you know about renewable energy? (scaled 1-5)

2.    Can you tell the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy? (scaled 1-5)

3.    Considering how much you know about renewables, how likely are you to recommend them to your colleague at work or a close friend? (scaled 1-5)

4.    How likely are you to use renewable energy for domestic purposes, such as heating, lighting, and cooking? (scaled 1-5)

5.    How clean are fossil fuels as a form of energy? (scaled 1-5)

Would you please rate how you feel about the following questions?

6.    Enough is being done to minimize the effects of climate change (scaled 1-5)

7.    I am taking responsibility for reducing my carbon footprint (scaled 1-5)

8.    Enough incentives are provided for using renewable energy (1-5)

9.    I consider renewables to be as efficient as coal or gas (scaled 1-5)

10.    There is an urgent need to pivot to renewable energy (scaled 1-5)

How affected are you by the following in your decision to switch to clean energy?

11.    Cost of purchasing (scaled 1-5)

12.    Cost of maintenance (scaled 1-5)

13.    Incentives for switching (scaled 1-5)

14.    Recommendation by a friend or colleague (scaled 1-5)

15.    Energy efficiency (scaled 1-5)

In-depth questions for consumer choice

16.    Do you have the same or separate companies supplying gas and electricity for your domestic use?
a. Separate  
b. Same 
c. Don't know
17.    Have you recently switched to a new supplier? (yes/no)
18.    How long have you been receiving energy from your present supplier? 
a. Less than a year 
b. 1-2 years   
c. 2-5 years   
d. More than 5 years
19.    Are you on a fixed price tariff for your energy consumption?
a. Yes, gas    
b. Yes, electricity    
c. Yes, both    
d. No   
e. Don't know
20.    Do you have any idea when this tariff will end?
a. Within 3 months 
b. Within 6 months 
c. Within a year 
d. More than a year 
e. Don't know
21.    How satisfied are you with your present energy supplier? (scaled 1-5)

22.    If someone asks you to recommend an energy supplier, how likely are you to recommend your current supplier? (scaled 1-5)

23.    When last did you consider changing tariff?
a. Within 3 months 
b. Within 6 months 
c. Within a year 
d. More than a year 
e. Don't know

24.    When last did you consider switching your supplier?
a. Within 3 months 
b. Within 6 months 
c. Within a year 
d. More than a year 
e. Don't know

25.    Has any energy supplier contacted you recently about switching?
a. Yes     
b. No     
c. Don't know
26.    When was the last time this occurred?
a. Within 3 months 
b. Within 6 months 
c. Within a year 
d. More than a year 
e. Don't know

27.    How did they contact you?
a. Telephone 
b. Email 
c. Sales rep 
d. Direct mail 
e. Others 
f. Don't know
28.    Did they offer you worse, similar, or better deal than your present supplier?
a. Worse   
b. Similar     
c. Better      
d. Don't know
29.    Did you switch to the supplier that contacted you?
a. Yes      
b. No      
c. Don't know
30.    Why did/didn't you switch?
a. Quality service    
b. Better price   
c. Reliability     
d. Supplier brand    
e. Clean energy

Some Ways the Energy Sector Can Use Surveys to Make Better Business Decisions

All organizations rely on customers, whether it's B2B or B2C. These days, the energy sector relies on customers even more than it previously did. Individuals now have varied options from coal-powered electricity or reliable solar panels. Consequently, energy suppliers need to be aware of the competition constantly. Suppliers need to know that there is a score of other suppliers reaching out to their customers and ready to hijack that customer when they slack.

In recent years, the industry has spent a lot of time predicting the energy of the future and the market trends of 2050. But if you want to stay in business, wouldn't it be better to ask the customer what their pain point is today? The customer, then, should be your best resource in evaluating market trends and services. Today's leading market experts understand that data-driven feedback and insights are gold.

Before now, conducting market surveys was seen as a costly process. The process of gathering together questions and targeting respondents could delay a team's progress. Not anymore.

Survey tools like SurveyOL offer market analysts high-quality research tools that are cost-effective and will provide accurate answers in little time. These tools put guesswork right in the bin and help you stay ahead of the curve.

That said, here are some ways the energy sector can use surveys to make better business decisions.

1.    Spot trends easily
The world moves pretty fast. Consumer choices change very fast, too. Your customers will jump ship if there is a new and better service offering in the market. How are your competitors snapping up your customers with ease while offering them lower prices than you? There are hundreds of trends that you may not know about, even if you are right in that industry. Sometimes, only market research and surveys can unravel these trends. The more you carry out surveys, the earlier you spot the trends.

2.    Understand the different customer groups
Depending on your size, it is unlikely that you will be supplying gas or electricity to the same customer group. Even if your customer group seems the same, there are sub-segments like businesses (where they utilize energy for production means). In contrast, others are individuals who use energy for primarily domestic purposes. Among individuals, you also have large households, middle-income households, etc. It would help if you better understood how these different groups use your service and their inclinations.

3.    Understand what your customers think of your competitors
For any product you are offering, for any customer you already have, at least one competitor is offering a similar product and who has contacted your customer to switch over. It is nothing out of the ordinary. Your organization should also be doing the same. A survey is more than just asking questions. It is about gaining insights into your business and other businesses within your scope. It would be best to understand what new service the competition is offering and how you can beat it and offer your customers even better value.

4.    Get ideas on new products
New products in the energy sector could be renewables. It would be best to understand the market reaction towards renewables. Do they see it as an efficient form of energy? Do they see it as a reliable means of powering their homes? These and more are questions you should include in your survey before launching new products.

Whether you want to understand consumer behavior or look for a new direction, surveys are an excellent way to make data-driven business decisions, especially geared towards the right people.

About the author:

Cathy Anderson is an accomplished Human Resource Consultant and a versatile Content Writer. Versed in broad spectrum of topics and issues, she works to produce well researched, engaging, and authoritative content.

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