The constant evolution in digital channels and customer service technology is improving the customer experience across most industries, and this has led to increased customer demands when it comes to service providers.
To keep up with the digital age, many utility providers are now realizing the importance of implementing a self-service customer portal.
A customer portal will help your utility to automate and save money on manual processes, free up time for customer service staff, deliver an omnichannel approach, collect valuable customer data for data-driven business insights and much more.
So, now that you’ve decided investing in a customer portal is the right solution for your business, how do you know which one to choose? SilverBlaze has listed five key considerations when selecting your proven customer portal solution:
1 - Will the Customer Portal Integrate with Your Existing System?
It’s likely that you have a whole range of software and services to meet the constantly evolving demands of your customer. As a result, it’s important that when you are selecting your customer portal you ensure that it is capable of integrating with your existing backend systems.
A customer portal should be able to easily integrate with your current platforms, such as:
- Online payment service
- OMS (Outage Management System)
- CIS (Customer Information System)
- Billing and eBilling
- AMI/MDM (Advanced Metering Infrastructure/Meter Data Management)
2 - Does this Mean I can Customize the Customer Portal?
Not only is it important for your customer portal to integrate with your existing platforms, but you also need to think about the future and ensure it will integrate with any future solutions you may choose.
Being able to customize your customer portal is essential if you want to be able to keep up with evolving future demands. A customer portal that you can’t customize will be fine for the next year or two, but how will you keep up with your customer’s demands in five or 10 years? You will be straight back to the drawing board and looking for a new platform.
A customer portal should be fully functionable out of the box, but customizability will allow you to stay ahead of the demands of your customer and seamlessly evolve as you move into the future.
Three customizations to consider include:
- Ensure the customer portable can be completely rebranded to reflect the design and themes of your company.
- Installing unique intelligent smart forms and automated workflows.
- Provide an easy-to-navigate interface for your customers.
3 - Will an Improved Self-Service Platform Reduce Strain on Your Employees?
Traditional customer service teams have always been inundated with calls that generally had easy resolutions - this ultimately means wasted time for both customer service representatives and the customer.
With a self-service customer portal your utility can empower your customers with the information they need to resolve their own issues. This means your customer service team can focus on more complex queries that offer higher value back to your customers.
4 - Is the Customer Portal Both Secure and Accessible?
Utility providers must meet growing technological demands, and part of that is providing an omnichannel approach. A customer portal will provide an easily accessible solution for your customers, allowing them to access their profile from anywhere and from their preferred device.
However, with so much personal data, it’s important the customer portal you choose is highly secure. The customer portal you select should:
- Store information on-site or in a secure off-site location.
- Store information and data in an encrypted central hub.
- Be able to withstand rigorous penetration testing to ensure it’s protected against potential attacks.
Securing your customer’s data is highly important, so don’t fail to make this one of your key considerations when choosing a customer portal to implement into your business processes.
5 - What Value Does a Customer Portal Provide Your Customers?
Ultimately, the main thing you want from the implementation of a customer portal is to provide additional value to your customers, leaving them more satisfied with your utility and delivering a better customer experience.
This can include improved customer engagement, easier ways to pay bills via ebilling, smart metering that helps the customer save money and reduce their carbon footprint, storm outage notifications and much more.