“How do we better leverage technology and improve customer experience?”
This is a question being asked in boardrooms and management meetings across North America. 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, are aware that customer satisfaction is a moving target, improving one aspect and then finding that customer expectations have shifted.
In the white paper, “Customer Experience: Creating Value Through Transforming Customer Journeys”, McKinsey & Company – the authors state that “how an organization delivers for customers is beginning to be as important as what it delivers.”
“More and more, customers expect the levels of satisfaction they receive from leaders such as Amazon, Apple, and Google – and they expect this from even the sleepiest corners of markets across all industries. Meanwhile, leading service providers also differentiate themselves through technology.” (McKinsey, 2016)
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 a few key influences), a utility company may be more, or less, sensitive to competition and disruption.
Viewing customer experience as a key strategic differentiator is not just about competition and loyalty – it’s also about mission, values, and even internal efficiencies that can result in a lower service cost.
Companies that recognize customer experience as a core part of delivering their product, still fail to create a compelling experience, according to the McKinsey paper. These companies often have a narrow focus or are unable to see their operation from the eyes of a customer.
But when a company gets it right, the ROI is significant. McKinsey states that successful projects for optimizing the customer experience typically achieve cost reductions of 15 – 25% in two to three years, improve gross margins, create happier employees, and simplify end-to-end operations.
Key to ensuring a successful customer experience program, is a clear understanding the entire customer journey – the complete end-to-end brand experience from the customer’s perspective.
McKinsey recommends that a customer experience program or project considers the following 5 tactics.
1. Define a clear customer-experience aspiration and common purpose – a clear statement of intent that can become a shared vision across your organization.
2. Develop a deep understanding of what matters to customers. How do you acquire the voice of the customer? What techniques can be used to stay in touch with customer expectations?
3. Reinvent customer journeys using digital technologies. This involves digitizing high-impact processes, such as ebilling.
4. Use customer journeys to empower the front line. At the forefront of customer experience is motivated employees.
5. Establish metrics and a governance system. How can you use customer satisfaction data to drive actions?
For utility providers, the “why” of going after better customer experience can be based on several different motivators (for example, increased competition, or increased pressure to lower costs). The ‘how’ is most frequently fixing or improving digital customer service, such as implementing a new customer self-serve portal.
A utility customer portal needs to be a significant component of the overall customer journey, and to be truly successful needs to be implemented as part of the overall customer experience strategy.
The SilverBlaze Customer Portal is designed to provide high-valued functionality, within an exceptionally well-designed interface that utility customers find pleasurable to use. We are focused on customer engagement, and offering solutions to help utility provides realize back-office efficiencies and cost savings.
If your utility company has a customer experience project on the agenda in 2018, we’d be pleased to find out more, and talk to you about the features and the advantages of implementing the SilverBlaze Customer Portal.