In the past and still till this day, the utility sector has not been renowned for providing superior customer experiences (CX) to delight their customers.
In fact, it was often the case that utility providers had little interaction with their customers. With virtually no competition in the industry and no choice for customers, utilities delivered adequate customer service but did not prioritise the customer experience. The only time utility customers interacted with their provider was for billing matters and service calls. Not exactly two conversations that leave the customer feeling delighted with a utility’s service offering.
That’s probably why a 2018 study by JD Power found that utilities are one of the lowest performing industries when it comes to delivering distinct digital customer experiences. Yet things are changing, and the study found that “some pioneers have found the secret to digital success.”
The customer experience has changed rapidly over the past few years across most industries. Customers have come to expect convenience, personalized services and self-service technologies that make it easy to find the information they want, when they want it - and some utility providers are adapting to this.
Why is the customer experience important for utility providers?
The customer experience is how a customer perceives all of the interactions they have with your company, whether it’s browsing your website, changing their information online or speaking to a customer service representative.
By building a superior customer experience across all fronts of your service, you will increase customer engagement and significantly increase customer satisfaction. Creating happier customers should be the ultimate goal for all businesses, no matter how competitive their market is.
The customer experience isn’t just about improving customer satisfaction however. A well thought out CX strategy aiming to improve customer engagement will also help your utility’s conservation and demand program and help you find outages faster,along with a number of other benefits that help your utility save money.
How your utility can provide superior customer experiences in today’s world
With those benefits in mind, how exactly has the utility customer experience changed over the past five years and what are today’s customers demanding from their utility? We take a look at the top four CX trends that customer’s want to see from their utility providers:
#1 - Self-service platforms that improve the entire utility experience
Today’s customers want to access the information they need, on the device they prefer using, at a time that works best for them. They no longer want to call your customer service representatives between the hours of 9-5 to find a solution. That’s why all utility providers now need a secure customer portal platform.
A utility customer portal allows utility customers to manage their entire account through either a website or a mobile application. Customers can use a customer portal to make payments, answer queries, manage their utility usage, receive outage notification and much more.
#2 - Detailed and insightful utility usage data
Smart utility infrastructure has given utility providers accurate insights into customer’s exact utility usage at the exact moment in time that they are using it.
Providing these in-depth reports to customers in the form of customer usage and analytics is a fantastic way to help your customers reach their utility goals, whether that be saving money or becoming more environmentally friendly.
#3 - Simplified utility payments
Tired of sending paper bills and waiting extended periods of time for your customers to send their payments back? Providing your customers with eBilling options that notify them when a payment is due makes it a far more seamless process for your customers to pay their bills, and at the same time can save your utility time and money too.
#4 - Accurate and updated outage notifications
2020 has seen a significant number of people transition to remote work. Working from home comes with its perks, but it also has its challenges. Utility downtime can seriously affect a person’s productivity and efficiency in their job.
Accurate outage notifications are now an important part of a superior customer experience and improved customer satisfaction. The more detailed you can be about an outage, the cause, the expected downtime, while alerting the customer when it’s back up-and-running, the happier your customer will be.
Want to learn more about how you can improve your utility’s customer experience? Contact SilverBlaze today. We are an innovative and award-winning software innovation, development and consulting firm that can help your utility significantly increase customer satisfaction levels.