The customer experience (CX) is the overall perception and feelings customers have towards your utility brand when they access your services. It embraces every interaction your customer has with your utility, whether it be resolving an issue, changing their contact information or receiving usage alerts.
When you provide a great customer experience, you build a strong and loyal customer relationship. An inferior customer experience on the other hand, can have detrimental effects on your business and can contribute to slower business growth.
With that it mind, here are three ways negative customer experiences can slow utility revenue growth:#1 - It damages reputation
For your utility business to be successful a positive brand reputation is paramount. It not only demonstrates to customers that your service is dependable and well received in the market, it also helps attract capital investors and top talent.
The problem is that customers are more likely to leave a bad review than a good one. They are also more likely to share a bad experience with friends and family through social media and word of mouth.
If you have a run of bad reviews, your brand reputation takes a hit. If you provide a utility service within a highly competitive market, like home heating, this can push customers to alternative solutions. And for all utility providers, a bad reputation can make it harder for you to expand and innovate. That’s because it could become more difficult to attract the investment funds and human resources you need to grow.#2 - It makes it more difficult to increase prices
When looking at the value a utility business provides, customers don’t just look at the product or service itself, but their experience with the business as a whole. That means a strong customer experience can actually increase your utility’s perceived value, which can support more flexibility in pricing models.
On the other hand, unhappy customers are significantly more averse to price increases.
Utilities are one of the first commodities to be hit by inflation. As a result, utility providers have to raise their prices accordingly. A loyal customer base of users happy with your customer experience is less likely to use inflationary price increases as a reason to seek an alternative provider.#3 - It causes employee turnover
A substandard customer experience can lead to a damaged brand reputation, which reduces your ability to attract top talent. But that isn’t the only HR problem a poor customer experience can cause. A poor customer experience can also increase employee turnover. This is partly because people want to work for companies that reflect well on them.
More importantly, a poor customer experience leads to more criticism, negative communications and general frustration from customers. This makes it harder for your employees to do their job and as a result the talent you do have will likely seek employment somewhere else. Your utility will spend more money on hiring, onboarding and training new staff, expenses that negatively impact the bottom line.
How a customer portal can improve your customer experience
Over the past few years, there has been a significant shift in the way customers access customer service. While customers will still reach out to a customer service agent on a phone with complex queries, their expectation is different for low-level problems.
If a customer perceives their issue as something that can be easily resolved, they will want to try to fix it themselves. Self-service options continue to grow as more processes become automated. If a customer can’t easily find the information they need to complete a routine request on their own, it can cause frustration and negatively affect the customer experience.
That’s where a 24x7 online customer service portal comes in.
88 percent of consumers expect brands to have self-service portals so that they can find information without the help of an agent. By offering a utility customer portal, you are meeting consumer needs for self-service and are providing additional tools and benefits. This not only benefits the customer, it also helps your utility by:
- Allowing staff to focus on more complex issues and provide quick response to easy questions
- Provides a channel for 24-hour support
- Improves engagement and customer satisfaction
- Makes it easier for customers to pay their bills
- Provides a secure platform to share information
- Helps to collect customer feedback through surveys, scores and commentary
- Increases the scalability of customer support
For more information about how a customer portal can improve your utility’s customer experience contact us today.
SilverBlaze is an award-winning software innovation, development and consulting firm. Founded in 1999, SilverBlaze provides utility companies with value-focused, highly-customizable web customer portal and smart forms software. Discover how we improve the customer experience with a range of self-serve features, and how we help utilities optimize processes and deliver ROI.