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The customer experience is becoming increasingly important in all industries, and utility providers now have a range of reasons for wanting to better engage their customers and offer superior customer service.

In fact, a recent study from Deloitte predicts that utility providers will increasingly invest in new technologies over the next three, five and ten years: “We expect digitalization to increasingly enter the spotlight, as electric power companies map out new ways to deploy rapidly advancing technologies to address challenges and harness opportunities.” 

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Utility providers around the world face unprecedented challenges due to rapidly changing market demands, and many are failing to keep up. With little to no competition from others within the industry, utilities providers in the past have been slow to embrace disruptive technologies and keep up with evolving customer expectations.

This lack of competition has historically led utility providers to sit back. Why aim for progress when the competitive pressures to innovate are pretty much removed? Then, the market changed. 

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How your utility customers view your business is becoming increasingly important, unhappy customers are the result of bad service and, in an increasingly connected world, negative online reviews are aplenty.

But while this digital world can damage the reputation of an inefficient organization, it can also help completely transform a company’s business processes to be significantly more effective. 

It is easy to think your business has tapped the full potential of digital technology, but many companies are still failing to complete this successful transformation.

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Most utility providers do not have to compete to gain and retain their customers, but that doesn’t mean customers aren’t expecting more from their experience. In fact, customers are expecting more than ever, and improved technology is now an essential part of a utility provider’s customer experience.

No longer are utilities just a number on a piece of paper that arrives through the door each month. Utility customers expect increased engagement and more information from their providers, and push notifications and alerts now play a huge role in customer satisfaction. 

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An increasing number of utility providers are learning that going digital is a must when it comes to meeting the expectations of their customers’, and giving customers easy access and a way to understand their usage data is now an absolutely essential component of the modern customer experience.

This is all part of a wider growth in on-demand consumer services, which have exploded throughout every industry over the last decade. From Netflix’s on-demand movies to Uber’s almost instant taxis and even Amazon’s one-day delivery times, consumers now expect immediate access to services. 

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The utility landscape is changing. Providers must now do more to interact with, and enhance the experience of a more knowledgeable and empowered customer. Energy users are more aware now than ever of their consumption and they want to cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint - that’s where smart thermostats come in.

Not to be confused with smart meters, which enable a utility provider to to digitally receive meter readings from a customer, smart thermostats empower the customer with information about their energy usage and provides them with an informed way to change their habits. 

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Customer service has transformed over the past decade, and customers now demand answers, seek information and want engagement with their utility provider no matter what hour of the day. Automating your workflow is now essential to high-quality customer experience.

In fact, according to marketing research firm IDC, companies lose between 20 percent and 30 percent of their revenue annually due to inefficiencies in their customer service department. 

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Following on from an extremely active 2017 hurricane season, which saw major Hurricanes such as Harvey, Irma and Maria crippling the power grids of Texas, Puerto Rico and Florida, it’s more important than ever before that utility providers create a robust plan for the preparation and response-management of storms - no matter how severe they are.

The public nature of these storms, along with the resulting media attention, has brought with it increased scrutiny on utility providers and regulators, with the general public now more aware of the difference between a good response and a bad response.

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Improvements in technology along with innovative companies such as Apple and Amazon have dramatically shifted how customers expect to engage with a company, and the utility industry is no different.

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SilverBlaze, which recently announced the launch of its new website and rebranded software, is going one step further to give back to the community this year with a string of golf sponsorships.

So far in 2018, SilverBlaze has sponsored the IBEW Local 636 charity Golf Tournament as well as ERTH’s Annual Charity Golf Tournament, and there are still two further sponsorship lined up for later this year. 

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