There are two important components of successful utility customer service. The first is, of course, customer satisfaction while the second component is the internal efficiency of your customer service team.
There’s one customer service strategy that utility providers can use to help enhance both the customer experience and their own customer service efficiencies. Call deflection.
When used effectively, call deflection can help utility providers deliver a customer experience that focuses on self-service and reduction of customer effort, all while lessening the number of calls to your customer service team and decreasing the workload of your customer service representatives (CSRs) so that they can focus on higher-value tasks.
In this blog, SilverBlaze takes a look at what call deflection actually is, how it benefits your utility’s customer service strategy and what techniques you can use to deflect calls away from your call center.
What is call deflection?
Call deflection is simply the process of routing a customer inquiry away from your call center, towards an alternative service channel instead.
The aim of this customer service technique is two-fold. Firstly, it’s to provide your customer with a more convenient solution that answers their question in the fastest and most frictionless method possible. Secondly, it is to reduce the costs and efficiencies of your own internal customer service team.
The aim of call deflection is to redirect your customers away from your customer service representatives and towards self-service channels instead. This could include anything from chatbots, an FAQ website page or a utility customer portal.
With call deflection, your customer remains in control. You aren’t forcing them to take one route for their customer service query. Instead, you are providing them with multiple self-service options and allowing them to choose the opportunity that they find the easiest.
Why is call deflection important for customer service success?
Call deflection is crucial for utility providers as it significantly improves the customer care you offer your customers, while at the same time significantly improving internal efficiencies and reducing customer service costs.
Here are just a couple of ways in which call deflection will bring ROI to your utility.
Reduce customer service costs: By reducing the number of calls to your utility’s call center, you will save a significant amount of money. Your agents will spend less time on the phone, customers will call into your customer service line less often and CSRs will spend less time working on time-consuming tasks and low-level queries that can be easily resolved without human interaction.
Provide your customers with a seamless experience: Today’s customers actually want to use self-service channels. They want 24/7 support on their favoured channel, with as little friction as possible. Call deflection allows you to drive customers to their channel of choice, dramatically improving the utility customer experience.
Improve CSR efficiencies: With reduced call volume coming into your call center, your utility’s CSRs will have more time to work on valuable tasks. That means they have more time to work on the higher priority items that offer real value to your customers.
Call deflection strategies for utility providers
#1 – Use a customer portal to fulfill all of your customer’s need
A customer portal allows your utility to deliver everything your customer needs through a seamless web browser or mobile application. It’s essentially a dedicated hub where utility customers can access all of the services and information they need in regards to their utility.
Through a utility customer portal, customers can pay their bills online, view current and past utility usage data, receive notifications and alerts from their service provider, send customer service queries and so much more.
This helps your utility build a superior customer experience, while at the same time lowering your cost to serve, improving the productivity of your customer service agents and increasing internal cost savings.
#2 – Focus on proactive communication
By focusing on proactive communication through real-time notifications and alerts, your utility is able to significantly improve customer satisfaction and reduce the volume of calls coming into your call center.
The best example of this is through outage notifications and maps. When you send notifications and alerts updating your customer through each stage of an outage, you dramatically reduce call volumes during an outage event.
#3 – Use bots to automate human conversations
Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to enhance the job done by humans, particularly when it comes to customer service agents. According to the PwC research, “AI can help plug that leak by going above and beyond what humans are capable of doing.”
Artificial intelligence can be used to reduce the time it takes for customers to get an answer, provide customers with answers when CSRs are unable to attend a live chat in a timely manner, as well as offering a superior one-to-one personalized experience.
#4 – Communicate with utility customers on social media
Social media is now one of the first places consumers go to connect with the businesses and services they pay for, whether it be to lodge a complaint, to receive information or to ask a question.
This opens up the opportunity for utility providers to reduce call volume through social media interactions. Answering as many customer queries through social media as possible will reduce your customers’ need to call your customer service team.
#5 – Create a community space for your customers to help each other
Your customers want answers, but they also want to help others. One way to simultaneously deflect calls and improve the satisfaction of your customers is to create a platform that encourages peer-to-peer support.
An online community, such as a forum or online group, will allow your customers to communicate with one another. Not only does this allow customers to get answers from their peers, but it also eliminates the need for them to reach out to your agents.
Are you interested in learning more about using call deflection strategies, particularly through the use of a customer portal for utilities, to enhance your utility customer experience and save money? Get in touch with SilverBlaze today. We would love to help.