For many years, little was known about how customer satisfaction benefitted utility providers. This, combined with the industry’s low level of competition, meant utilities typically didn’t invest heavily into their customer service offering.
Yet, this traditional way of thinking has changed dramatically in recent years. Digitization is now at the forefront of utility transformation, with utility providers now investing heavily into their customer service departments and their customer experience (CX) offering.
Investing in customer service technologies, departments and processes offers utilities the opportunity to realize a wide range of benefits. In fact, new research has found that satisfied customers result in increased profits - even for public utility companies that face little-to-no competition.
The study, as published in the Journal of Marketing Research and as discussed in this blog by Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, found that customer satisfaction has a direct correlation with utility profits - despite the fact that customers don’t have an option to change providers if they are unhappy.
With that in mind, let’s take a more detailed look at how utility customer satisfaction and profits go hand-in-hand.
What did the study find?
The study found, using data from US public utility firms from 2001 to 2017, that utility companies have a cost-based incentive to deliver and improve their customers’ satisfaction levels.
In fact, the study found evidence that supports improving customer satisfaction levels that lead to profit growth by reducing utility operating costs.
It found that for the average utility company, a one-unit (on the 1 to 100 point ACSI index) improvement in customer satisfaction decreases operating costs by $29 million (US) overall. This means that efficiency gains from improved customer satisfaction, trust and goodwill is likely to lead to greater acceptance of new technologies within the utility industry.
Did you know that your utility can deliver superior customer service through a customer portal solution?
There are a number of ways your utility can deliver superior customer service and experiences to your customers, but none are more effective than the implementation of a customer portal solution.
A customer portal is a customer-facing software, delivered through a web browser or smart device application, which is designed specifically to give your customers access to all of the services and information they need in one centralized location.
Operating as a dedicated hub that meets all of your utility customers’ expectations, a customer portal allows your customers to:
- Easily pay their bills through an eBilling solution.
- Improve their utility usage through access to usage and analytics data.
- Receive notifications and alerts with important information from your utility, increasing engagement.
- Access smart metering and utility outage information.
- As well as many other valuable functionalities!
The result of these functionalities? Through the use of a customer portal for utilities that empowers your organization to offer a superior customer experience, your company will access a wide range of benefits from reducing strain on your customer service team, increasing customer engagement, reducing customer effort and much more.
How a customer portal solution leads to utility profit growth
With that in mind, here are just a few ways in which improving your utility’s customer service with a customer portal for utilities can help your organization lower operating costs and, in turn, drive profit growth:
Automating manual customer service tasks: Manual and repetitive tasks take time away from your customer service representatives that they could instead spend delivering superior experiences to your customers. Customer portals are able to make use of Smart Forms and workflows to automate rudimentary tasks and free up time for your agents to work on higher-value projects.
Increase utility employee retention: When the jobs of customer service agents are enhanced with the addition of a customer portal solution, agents are far more likely to be happy and fulfilled in their jobs - knowing they are making a real difference to customers. When employee retention goes up, so do your utility’s profits.
Improved utility customer self-service: A customer portal solution makes it seamless and intuitive for your customers to find the information they need when they need it, increasing self-service among your customers and reducing strain on your customer service team. This leaves your customer service department with more time to deal with high-value queries that deliver true customer satisfaction.
Reduce your utility’s paper consumption: Not only does paper cost an alarming amount for your utility, paper-based communication has a knock on effect that impacts your revenue cycle and the customer experience. By using a customer portal to communicate with your customers and send online billing options, your utility can save a significant amount of money.
For more details on how a customer portal can reduce utility operating costs please read our recent blog ‘4 Ways Customer Portal Technology Saves Your Utility Time and Money,’ or contact SilverBlaze today to learn how our award-winning customer portal for utilities can drive profit growth for your business.