Self-service solutions aren’t a new idea. Think of the last time you put fuel in your vehicle. Unless you live in certain states, you likely pumped your own gas. ATMs are commonplace all over the world because people hate waiting in line to deposit or withdraw cash from a human teller. Convenience factors into how a customer will perceive a company, brand, product, or service and how frequent they’ll use it.
Now we have grocery stores and other retail outlets that have self-service checkouts so customers don’t have to wait in line to purchase their products. Not to mention that some grocers have started offering online grocery shopping and delivery services.
In fact, research from Zendesk found that 67 percent of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative. In fact, most customers are willing to find answers out themselves, so much so that, by 2030, Gartner estimates that a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customer-owned bots.
Self-service, while not a completely new idea, is becoming an increasingly common solution in a world where customers are digitally connected to everything they do in their life - including their utilities.
What is Utility Self Service?
Consumers previously expected different levels of service between businesses in one industry and another. Technology has completely transformed that dynamic, with the customer experience now a huge driving force in customer satisfaction levels across all industries.
Self-service has become a huge part of any successful customer experience strategy. Consumers want to be able to interact with their utility providers on their own terms, in their own time and on their preferred device.
That’s why many utility providers are now offering online self-service options from bill notifications, ebilling, utility usage reports, outage alerts, service requests, direct communication and much more through the implementation of a utility customer portal.
In order to stay competitive in terms of the customer experience and customer satisfaction metrics, it’s crucial that your utility is offering modern self-service options that improve how your customers engage with your business.
But it’s not just your customers that will benefit from an improved self-service strategy, so will your utility. Here are just three benefits, out of many, that your utility can realize from implementing modern self-service technology into its customer experience processes:
#1 - Your customers want to answer their own questions
An increasing number of consumers prefer to answer their own questions and solve their own issues through self-service means, as opposed to dealing directly with a company’s customer service team.
Research from American Express found that over 60 percent of US consumers prefer an automated self-service, such as a website or mobile app, for simple customer service tasks - rather than talking to a human on the phone.
Self-service platforms give customers the opportunity to receive round-the-clock customer support, faster resolution times and easy answers to common questions about billing, payments, checking utility consumption habits, requesting services, report outages and much more.
#2 - Technology is changing fast
Today’s rapidly advancing technologies are changing how utilities engage with their customers. Take the smartphone for example - in early 2007, the concept of a smartphone basically didn’t even exist. Then, Apple changed the mobile market forever when it introduced the iPhone, the world’s first, true “smartphone”.
Now, 13 years later , smartphones and smart devices are ubiquitous and your customers want to use them to access your services. That means utilities need to have websites that are mobile-responsive, in addition to their self-service portals allowing users to interact with them via their smartphone or tablet - even better if they have a customer portal mobile app.
#3 - Your finance department will thank you
Having a robust self-service solution means customers can receive answers to simple questions without needing to talk to a representative. This frees up your utility’s customer service team to perform more high-value tasks that may be more time-sensitive, for instance.
When your self-service solution can help integrate your CIS, billing, and other legacy systems, everyone wins - including your customers. When your staff members are free to do their jobs, and your customers are satisfied , your company’s bottom line improves too because bills are being paid on time and online, and cash flow becomes immediate .
Want to find out how you can improve your utility’s self-service strategy and access these benefits and many more through the use of the SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities? Contact our team of utility customer experience experts today. We would love to answer any questions that you may have.