Changes in customer online behaviour have made the customer experience (CX) a crucial element to many consumer brands. This is no different for utility companies, which now must become CX-centric or risk falling behind.
Matthew Guarini wrote in Creating The CX-Centric Utility: “The utilities of today ... want to change the engagement model to reduce costs, provide new solutions to counter non-regulated solutions, alter consumption behaviour to drive energy efficiency, position for smart home services, and use customer advocacy as a lever for favourable treatment by regulators.”
This is having an affect across the sector, as technology drives change.
Guarini added: “As other industries struggle with adapting to digitally insatiable and empowered customers who are willing to switch allegiances based on a single, poor experience or one fabulously valuable one, utilities find themselves in a challenging position. Technology is enabling new entrants, and utilities need to better deliver experiences that customers value and regulators reward. The cost of delay or failure is a steady decline in customer base. This is not the time to sit back and apply a passive CX strategy — this is the time to place your company’s full energy behind CX.”
While this may be a concern for many utility providers, it shouldn’t be. It’s an opportunity. A chance for utility providers to position their company for the future and go that extra step to meet or exceed their consumers’ demands.
The customer experience is an opportunity
The past decade has seen the utility market, along with many other industries, make a dramatic shift in the way it delivers its services. Businesses within the field have been meeting the growth of customer expectations with the implementation of new technologies and improved engagement.
Companies who don’t keep up with these advances will only continue to fall further behind and out of favour with both current and potential customers. Those that do, however, will see improved customer engagement, an increase in customers and an overall happier customer base.
Digital platforms, such as the SilverBlaze Customer Portal, have improved the flow of transactions and communication between the utility provider and the end-user. Customers expect to be able to engage with you on all levels and platforms.
What do modern customers expect?
Gone are the days when utility providers sent out a paper bill each month, and their only interaction with the customer was when they were required to travel to a payment kiosk or speak directly to a member of your billing team.
Customers now want to track their utility usage. They want to compare it to their usage in the previous month and learn how they can make adjustments to their behaviour to save costs and minimize their energy use. They want to be able to easily pay their bills with the click of a button on their phone each month, and they demand increased dialogue with their utility providers.
Customers are now willing to switch allegiances after one bad experience. The cost of failing to let a customer know about a power outage, or even a delay in telling them, could result in the loss of their business when alternative utility provider comes into the market.
How do I become more CX-centrix?
Digital platforms such as online billing and direct notifications and alerts will improve your relationship with your customer, and give them the customer experience they’re looking for. This will lead to your business improving your relationship with current customers, become an attractive utility provider to prospective customers and, ultimately, increase your revenues.
Meanwhile, back-end data is also a crucial element to your customer experience program. Data collection and an automated process helps to optimize your workflow and offer your customers an easy-to-understand method to provide their information using smart forms.
Smart forms and workflows will help you collect information about your customers, and enable you to coordinate your business in a way that gives your utility customers an easy and efficient experience.
Customers now have more knowledge and know exactly what they want from their customer experience. If they don’t get it, they won’t hang around. Utility providers must recognize the opportunity present by these new technologies, and become CX-centric businesses, or risk losing out to more capable competitors in the future.
Contact SilverBlaze today, if you want to learn how your business can become more CX-centric.