“How do we better leverage technology and improve the customer experience?” That’s a question that businesses all over the world are grappling with as we transition into a world where online usage and customer expectations are increasingly growing.
In fact, according to an article published by McKinsey, “the companies that make the right investments now could build an enduring advantage in serving customers.”
What does that mean for the utility industry? It means that utilities are going to need to rethink the way they perceive technology when it comes to the customer experience. Thankfully, innovative technology and web platforms are readily available, offering an opportunity to augment a delivered product with value-added features.
Consumer-focused businesses, like utility providers, must be able to keep up with shifting consumer demands – even if their competition is little or even non-existent like it is in a vast number of utility sectors.
Utility providers are in a unique position in many respects. Depending on state or provincial legislation, regional market conditions, availability of alternatives, and demographic considerations (to name just a few key influences), a utility company may be more or less sensitive to competition and market disruptions.
Viewing customer experience as a key strategic differentiator is not just about competition and loyalty, however. It’s also about a mission and values with internal efficiencies that can result in lower service costs and delighting customers.
Three Priorities That will Define the Customer Experience
Companies must recognize that the customer experience is a core part of their product offering, even if they have little to no competition. But with CX changing so rapidly, how can utilities stay on top?
McKinsey believes that three priorities will define customer experience in the post-pandemic era:
- Digital excellence
- Safe and contactless engagement
- Dynamic customer insights.
What Does That Mean for Utility Providers?
For utility providers, the “why” of going after better customer experience can be based on several different motivators, for example increased competition, increased pressure to lower costs or the drive to better satisfy customers.
The “how” has always been a little more complicated, with utility providers typically fairly conservative when it comes to the implementation of new customer-facing technologies.
With the focus of the customer experience now on technology, however, utility providers must seek innovative ways to improve the customer experience, reduce customer effort and build a seamless customer journey.
That’s where a customer portal for utilities comes in.
What is a Utility Customer Portal and How Does it Improve the Customer Experience?
A customer portal for utilities is accessed through a website or mobile application, and allows users to manage their entire utility account in one centralized location.
Using a utility customer portal, utility customers can log in to their utility account to update account information, make payments, monitor transactions, customize outage notifications to their devices, manage their utility usage, submit a service request, as well as many other online customer facing features.
Best of all, a utility customer portal can help you meet all of the customer experience priorities laid out by McKinsey.
- Digital excellence – Dramatically improve customer engagement by providing everything your customers need to interact with you on one easy-to-use digital platform.
- Safe and contactless engagement – Remove all middlemen and use a customer portal to engage with your customer directly, whether it’s sending important information through notifications and alerts or allowing your customers to seamlessly pay their bills online through eBilling.
- Dynamic customer insights – Provide your customers with direct insights into their utility usage and analytics data to help them meet their financial and environmental goals. At the same time, collect information from your customers that will help you better design your customer experience strategy moving forward.
Want to experience first-hand the benefits your utility can realize from the use of a utility customer portal? Schedule a demo with the SilverBlaze team today.