COVID-19 made a dramatic impact on our lives and continues to do so. Stay-at-home orders, social distancing and how we engage with the organizations we do business with has changed our day-to-day interactions.
As a result, customer service teams have had to reevaluate what defines customer care means. Building world-class customer experience (CX) programs and improving customer satisfaction metrics are now about adapting to the specific needs of your customer.
Utility providers have long been hesitant to invest in new technologies that improve the CX, largely due to a lack (or no) competition. This has changed within the past 10 years, and COVID-19 has increased the urgency in which utility providers must revolutionize their customer experience strategies.
Utilities must meet the new needs and expectations of their customers. By building a utility strategy that makes use of innovative technology to transform the customer experience, you will ensure your organization is sustainable and able to improve customer satisfaction through the pandemic, and long into the future.
To help your utility position itself at the forefront of long-term shifts in customer experience expectations, SilverBlaze has listed three best practices that you should implement right now to delight your customers and build trust:
#1 – Meet your customers at home (digitally)
Social distancing, self isolation and lockdown regulations have all resulted in one huge momentous change and many employees around the world are now working from home. Whether their organization has adapted a complete remote work model or a hybrid work model – where they mix their time between office and home work – the benefits for both employees and businesses mean working from home is here to stay.
Since many people are no longer leaving their homes to interact with organizations, many consumers are now engaging with companies through the internet. Consumers now expect digital-first experiences when engaging with organizations – and your utility is no different.
A utility providers’ point of contact with their customer should now be online.
For example, utilities should provide services such as billing and payment through a utility customer portal or mobile applications. As opposed to waiting for a bill to come through the post, utility customers can use ebilling to pay their bills with a few clicks of a button.
In addition, with COVID-19 in mind, refraining from physical transactions and pursuing the online route has become top-of-mind in consumers, employees, and business owners in order to keep safe and stay healthy.
This will ensure your utility is meeting your customer where they are, and when they need you.
#2 – Focus on care
Customer engagement has always been an important aspect to happy customers and a great customer experience. Now more than ever, however, people need guidance, support and helpful information from resources that they trust. Consumers don’t want salesy communication gimmicks that miss the mark on how they are feeling as a user.
For utility providers, this means sending insightful communication that makes your customers’ life easier. This could involve sending push notifications when a bill is due, outage alerts that keep them informed of downtime (this particularly important for remote workers) and sending insightful usage data and analytics; all of which helps your customers to save money and hit their daily, weekly or monthly utility goals. This type of customer interaction will let them know that you’re a customer centric utility organization and that you care.
#3 – Post-COVID contingency plan
The “new normal” will evolve at some point, but it’s likely the impact of COVID-19 will last long into 2021. Once it is over, however, the above points are still hugely important aspects of your utility’s customer experience. But it’s not just the customer experience that the implementation of a customer portal will improve, it’s also your utility’s operational efficiencies.
By using a customer portal – such as the award-winning SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities – to provide your customers with a seamless digital self-service channel that they enjoy, your utility will be able to automate time-consuming operational processes and reduce strain on your customer support team. This undoubtedly improves the efficiency of your organization and, at the same time, helps you save money.
Adopting new innovative strategies and caring about your customers will allow your utility to build world-class customer experience strategies that ensure long beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any questions we’d be pleased to help. Contact us today.