Improving a utility’s customer satisfaction is largely driven by the customer experience (CX) and the benefits of internal efficiencies. It’s for that reason modern utilities simply must focus on reducing friction in their customer support strategies. To do this, utility providers must implement new changes that will reduce customer effort and improve customer engagement.
The implementation of a self-service customer portal is the answer.
Providing your utility customers with a customer portal will give them complete access to manage their entire utility account with features such as, automated customer service requests, usage analytics, billing and payments, outage information, account management and much more.
In turn, a customer portal will not only vastly improve the customer experience, it will also reduce strain on your utility’s customer service team, improve your billing capabilities, enhance your customer engagement and significantly reduce customer effort.
When choosing a self-service portal, there are a number of factors to take into account to ensure you make the best choice for your utility. To help you make the right choice, SilverBlaze has compiled a list of the five most important questions to ask:
#1 - Will the self-service portal integrate easily with your current systems?
Your utility may have previously invested in software solutions to help meet the needs of your customers. With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that your new customer portal will easily integrate with your current systems and your software solutions.
The best solution for your utility will be easy to configure and effortlessly connect with your existing platforms, including:
- eBilling repository
- Online payment service
- And OMS
In addition, your self-service portal should be capable of integrating with any future solutions you choose. If you are already planning to implement new platforms, whether it be in the short or long-term, make sure they will be compatible with the customer portal that you select.
#2 - Is the self-service portal solution customizable?
It’s important that your self-service portal reflects your unique needs and characteristics. The right solution will provide out-of-the-box functionality, while still allowing for customization to engage your customers.
A self-service web portal should be customized to:
- Incorporate a visual design that is consistent with your brand for a seamless experience
- Utilize unique intelligent smart forms and automated workflows
- Provide customers with an easy to navigate interface
With complete control over the look and feel of your self-service portal, you can clearly present your customers with the tools necessary to access important information. The end result is a self-service portal that improves customer engagement and the overall customer experience, while empowering the user.
#3 - Will the customer portal reduce strain on your employees?
The best self-service portal solution for your utility should free up employees across the organization to tackle other issues:
- Your IT team will be able to shift their focus toward testing solutions and further improving the customer experience
- Your customer service department will experience lower call volumes, reducing wait times and allowing your employees to better service clients who have more complex queries
- Your billing department can better manage queues and ensure any customer billing changes are quickly processed
#4 Does the self-service portal solution properly balance security and accessibility?
The self-service portal solution you choose should be easily accessible for your customers, regardless of their device or location. The best option will also be highly secure. With so much personal data and information being collected every day, your self-service solution should:
- Store information and data in an encrypted central hub
- Store information on-site or in a secure, off-site location
- Stand up to rigorous penetration testing to ensure it is protected against potential attacks
For more information on self-service portal security, read the SilverBlaze blog post ‘Data Security For Utility Providers: Is Your Customer Portal Secure?’
#5 - Does the customer portal provide value for your utility?
When we say value, we mean both tangible and intangible. A self-service customer portal should actively engage your customers and result in a positive experience. A robust self-service portal solution will provide customers with tools to:
- Quickly receive and pay their bills online
- Access their usage history and information from any location with an internet connection
- Make changes to their accounts immediately
- Receive instant notification of upcoming service outages or upgrades
- And much more!
By making it possible for your customers to access their own information, a self-service customer portal should also provide a clear path to a return on investment; this is done by reducing costs associated with producing physical copies of bills, invoices, and reports, as well as mailing and faxing costs.
When a self-service portal is able to provide both tangible and intangible value, you can be confident that it’s the best choice for your employees, your customers, and the utility as a whole.
How can SilverBlaze help?
The SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities is an award-winning customer portal specifically designed for private, public, or municipal utility providers. Offering exceptional customization, security, and value, the SilverBlaze self-service customer portal is easily integrated with your existing systems and can be quickly deployed to increase customer engagement.
Want to learn more about how SilverBlaze can improve your utililty’s customer experience and save money? Contact our team of professional consultants today for a demo, and see first-hand how our platform works.