Customer service is a challenge for any utility company. With such broad customer bases and tremendous responsibilities for providing needed services, customer service engagement in the utility industry can be intense and high-volume.
The outdated perception is that utility companies don’t need to prioritize customer service. However, forward-thinking utility leaders know that such an attitude isn’t just ethically deficient, it’s poor business.
The more research we see on customer satisfaction in the utility industry, the more we realize how much it matters. Utilities with satisfied customers tend to enjoy reduced operating costs and better reputations—not to mention a better fulfillment of the company’s basic mission to deliver vital services.
Today’s utility customers expect a seamless, digitized, and personalized customer service experience. In the sections below, we’ll discuss the smart solutions that help utilities meet these challenging demands.
The Role of Utility Billing Software in Customer Service
The use of billing software directly impacts a utility’s customer service. This involves both the quality of the software and the degree to which the company makes good use of its features.
Here are a few smart utility benefits enjoyed by organizations that take full advantage of their billing software systems.
Utility billing software can automate billing and payment procedures. Software can also equip a utility to handle numerous payment options. These improvements improve the rate of on-time payments and reduce errors, simplifying and improving the customer payment experience.
Smart utility tools provide connections between devices, applications, and software systems. These connections equip customers with real-time usage data. Real-time information enables customers to better understand and monitor their usage and their bills, improving transparency and trust between the utility and its customers.
Multiple Communication Touchpoints
Billing software may be used to present customers with a direct communication platform, presenting alternatives to traditional call-based support. Messaging and chat systems equip utilities to respond to higher volumes of customer inquiries more efficiently.
Enhancing Customer Engagement with Utility Billing Software
By embracing advanced billing software features, utilities help customers feel informed and empowered. Here are a few features that improve customer engagement.
Self-service portals allow customers to manage their accounts, track their usage, and submit payments. Self-service portals also reduce the demands on customer service reps, providing a win-win solution for a utility’s workforce and customers.
Proactive Alerts and Notifications
Timely updates about bills, outages, or consumption anomalies can be generated and transmitted through a billing software system. These notifications provide customers with important information and foster a positive connection with their service provider.
Streamlined Dispute Management
Billing software provides utilities with a system for tracking, managing, and expediting billing disputes, leading to a satisfactory resolution process for customers. Offering both a direct communication platform and easy access to data, billing software makes it possible to resolve many disputes promptly and fairly.
Choosing the Right Utility Billing Software
When selecting a new software provider for your utility, consider these factors:
- Pricing and contract terms
- Scalability for your company’s size and expected growth
- Integration capabilities with your existing systems
- Support services
Before seriously considering a product, request a demonstration. A demo lets you see how the software looks in action, providing a clear indication of whether or not the system is likely to meet your needs.
Best Practices for Engaging Customers with Utility Billing Software
Personalization is Key
Personalization helps customers get the info they’re looking for, when, and how they’d like to receive it. This may include custom reminders, individual usage reports, and personalized saving tips based on historic usage.
Transparency and Proactive Communication
Many customers find their utility bills confusing or even suspicious. Customers generally view their utilities as trustworthy but often feel that communication is lacking.
According to annual survey data from Cogent Syndicated, investing in communications has a direct payoff for utilities in earning the trust of customers.
Utilities that want to improve communications can do so through their billing software. This involves providing clear and useful information on bills, offering transparency about rates, and sending proactive alerts about issues like rate hikes or service disruptions.
Regular Software Updates and Training
To fully leverage the power of your billing software, it’s important to provide regular training for your customer service team to fully prepare them to operate the system. The best software providers are happy to provide product demos, resources, and recommendations for the use of their systems.
Additionally, keep your software current by accepting regularly scheduled updates. Updates are easy to execute and important for helping your system to continue functioning optimally.
Improve Customer Service at Your Utility Company with SilverBlaze
SilverBlaze stands at the forefront of customer engagement and usage analytics software development for utilities. As a subsidiary of Harris Utilities, our innovative solutions seamlessly integrate with their comprehensive range of billing software offerings. Our dedicated software enhances every aspect of your organization’s customer connections and operational efficiency. To experience the power of our solutions firsthand, schedule a product demo today.