The most important consideration for the success of your utility is its customers. Engagement is a crucial aspect of the customer experience, and creating satisfied customers should be at the heart of every utility’s business model.
With that being said, a protected customer is a satisfied customer; therefore protecting your utility’s customers from external scams should be a priority. This is particularly important right now since utility scams are on the rise in a number of locations across North America.
Take this information released by Duke Energy in Charlotte, North Carolina for example. The utility provider reported that June 2020 was the highest single month on record for reported scam attempts targeting its customers, with more than 4,000.
The total number of scam attempts reported by Duke Energy customers so far in 2020 is more than 15,000, that’s already approaching 2019’s full-year total of 18,000.
Unfortunately, utility scams are becoming increasingly common. Many customers are receiving phone calls and emails from so-called utility companies, threatening to turn their electric, gas, water or phone services off if they don’t pay their bill as soon as possible.
While we know that utility companies will never call or email you randomly to pay a bill or risk losing your utilities, these scare tactics are used to trick customers into paying a fake utility bill or risk losing their essential services - and they work.
There are things that utility providers can do to help prevent customers falling for these scams and give them a sense of security. That’s where a utility customer portal comes in.
Firstly, what is a customer portal?
A customer portal is a secure website or mobile application that allows users to manage their entire utility account without the need of having to phone a utility’s customer service line and speak to a representative.
Everything that you would need to do in person can be done through the customer portal (if not more). Customers can use a customer portal to update personal information, make payments, receive outage notifications, manage their utility usage, communicate with their utility provider and access smart metering information.
They can access this information 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 365 days a year on their preferred device. Empowering the users to utilize a self-service customer portal at any given time vastly improves the customer experience and reduces the strain on your customer service team.
How can a portal help protect my utility customers from scams?
There’s one reason why the use of a utility customer portal will protect your customers from utility scams - all of the information they need is in one place. All communication with your customer will now go through your customer portal.
That means any information about billing, utility usage or outages will be sent to your customer in one location. Your customer no longer has to worry about communication via email or phone calls requesting billing information. All direct communication from your utility will be sent through your customer portal, meaning customers will know that it’s legitimate.
You can prompt your customers to pay their bills through notifications and alerts, and those customers can log onto the customer portal and pay their bills directly to your company. No longer will they have to worry about phishing email scams and illegitimate phone calls claiming to be your utility - they can now just simply ignore them and visit your customer portal for legitimate and secure communication.
Not only does this mean your utility is improving the customer experience and driving up satisfaction levels, it also means that you're taking the initiative to protect your customers from scams. A win-win.
Want to learn more about customer portals?
If you’re looking for more information about how your utility can benefit from the use of a customer portal, SilverBlaze is here to help.
The SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities is the only self-service portal designed exclusively for utility providers, meaning it's designed specifically to improve the experience for your utility customers.
Offering unparalleled customization, security and value, the SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities offers a range of features that enhance the customer experience, from ebilling and notifications to outage integration and usage analytics.
Want to learn more? Contact the SilverBlaze team of experts today. We would love to answer any questions you may have, and explain how our innovative customer portal can improve your utility customer experience and protect your customers from scams at the same time.