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How a Customer Portal Helps Utilities Overcome Major Industry Challenges

Posted on Aug 31, 2021 11:18:00 AM

Utility websites continue to struggle when it comes to delivering a satisfying and engaging utility customer experience

That’s according to the recent J.D. Power 2021 Utility Digital Experience Study, which found utility mobile apps and websites have shown they can deliver on basic tasks as the world transitions to digital-first customer engagement models, but more in-depth functions (such as research on energy-saving information or updating service) continue to present major challenges.

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at a few of the top challenges discovered by the J.D. Power report, as well as examine how a Customer Portal for Utilities solution can address those challenges for utility providers.
 

The top challenges utility providers are dealing with when it comes to utility customer engagement 

Based on evaluations from 8,508 customers of the 36 largest electric, natural gas and water utilities in the United States, the J.D. Power study analyzes how customers interact with their utility website and mobile app as well as with the online social, email, chat and text functions.

The 2021 study found three key challenges for utility providers:

1 - Utilities are struggling to deliver on complex digital functions

As we mentioned earlier in the blog, the study found that utilities are performing well when it comes to supporting basic digital customer engagement functions, such as making payments, log in processes and reviewing account information.

Yet, despite that, utilities are struggling with more complex digital functions such as viewing usage and consumption history, researching energy-saving information and service updates.

2 - Half of utility customers can’t find the information they need

Self-service has become a huge component of customer engagement in the past few years. Customers want to find the answers to their questions on their favourite device, at the time that works best for them in the channel they prefer using.

Yet, nearly half (48 percent) of utility customers told the J.D. Power study that they were unable to find the information they were looking for on their utility’s website or app. This led to them turning to online chat, call centers, social media, email and text messages to resolve their issue. When customers turn to these methods to resolve simple requests, your call center efficiencies are impacted drastically. 

3 - Utilities are suffering from a wide gap in digital experience performance

The overall customer satisfaction score in J.D Power’s 2021 study showed an upward trend of 3 points (on a 1,000-point scale) compared to 2020. Despite that, 13 of the 36 utilities showed double-digit declines. 

How a utility customer portal can simplify utility customer engagement

Did you know there’s a way that your utility can overcome these challenges, providing complex interactions to your customers in one simple and easy-to-use digital solution? That’s where a utility customer portal can help.

A utility customer portal is a customer-facing software platform, delivered through either a web browser or mobile application, that’s designed to specifically improve how your utility interacts with its customers. 

Through the use of a customer portal, customers can access all of the services and information they need when it comes to their utility provider. That means they are able to pay bills online, view past and current utility consumption data, receive notifications and alerts directly from their utility about important information, send customer service queries and much more. 

This has two benefits for utility providers. Firstly, they’re able to seamlessly provide a superior customer experience that leads to improved customer satisfaction. Secondly, they can see internal benefits such as a lower cost to serve, improved internal efficiencies, better customer service outcomes and so much more. 


Interested in learning how a customer portal can help your utility deliver complex interactions that drive up customer satisfaction? Get your free demo of the SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities today.

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Topics: Customer Engagement