The utility industry has undergone huge changes over the past decade, from increased gas and oil production to the advent of new energy efficient technologies which are trying to disrupt and change the sector.
However, one thing has changed the way utility providers work more than anything else - the customer experience.
A study from Salesforce found that 75 percent of consumers expect a consistent experience whenever they engage with a company, and around 70 percent of consumers say technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.
In an article published by Adobe, Ann Lewnes, SVP and CMO of the multinational software company, said: “The term ‘customer experience’ won’t exist in the organization of the future. It will be so deeply entrenched in a company’s product, process, and culture that it will be synonymous with the brand and represent the only way to do business.”
Technological innovation and greater transparency into business practices means the customer now expects a much faster, more efficient and more satisfying customer experience, and many industries are following the lead of companies such as Netflix, Uber or Amazon, and making it a core component of their business processes.
Many utility providers, however, are still somewhat behind in the adoption of these technological innovations.
The traditional utility provider could sit back, happy in the knowledge that they had little, or probably no, competition within their marketplace. With rising competition from renewable energy options and the greatly improved customer experience (CX) of other industries, this is no longer true. Thankfully though, utility providers are recognizing this.
SilverBlaze has listed four pillars of engagement that are crucial for the success of a utility provider’s customer experience:
1 - Technology
Millennials are an ever-growing percentage of the utility provider customer base, and that means a large part of the customer experience is about providing an omnichannel approach that allows customers to reach you on their preferred device at any time of the day.
According to the Aberdeen Group, organizations with a poor omnichannel strategy retain just 33 percent of customers, while brands with effective omnichannel engagement programmes keep 89 percent of customers.” While this doesn’t directly correspond to utility providers, it gives us an insight into just how important the adoption of new engagement technologies is in the 21st Century.
Utility providers are benefiting from offering tools for digital engagement, including smartphone apps for bill paying, usage management solutions that help customers save money and reduce their carbon footprint, and much more.
2 - Data
Knowing the behaviour and needs of your consumer, as well as the possible issues they could encounter, is key to the fast and efficient resolution of problems. This is why customer data is a key component of engagement.
Collecting and analyzing data for each of your customers will give your customer service representatives insight into customer preferences, and empower them to improve the customer experience through constant progression.
Not only will data allow you to constantly improve the way you engage with customers, but it will also give you the tools to make that engagement more personalized. Personalization is the modern key to success. For a truly successful customer experience, engagement should be focused on creating personal, positive and genuine connections by treating each engagement as unique.
3 - Communication
Communication is the key to customer engagement, and real-time, immediate communication is more important now than ever before. Those utility providers seeking to reach the next level of engagement must implement communication channels that reduce customer effort.
The technology you implement into your business processes can empower your customers to solve their own customer queries, enable them to access information across all digital channels and increase their satisfaction in the services you provide.
Communication technologies that can transform your company’s customer experience include:
- Outage notifications.
- Push notifications and alerts.
- Smart metering.
- Smart forms and workflow software.
4 - Partnerships
These four pillars create one necessity - the need for partnerships with technology experts that can transform the way you engage with customers. Many utility providers simply don’t have the manpower and expertise needed to use these high-end technologies on their own.
Specialized technology companies are capable of building and providing the software and products your company needs to improve its customer experience, and package them in a way that makes them easy and efficient to use.
Contact SilverBlaze today and learn more about how we can transform your utility’s customer experience.