Advancements in technology over the past decade has brought with it a new type of consumer. A successful company must now focus on reducing customer effort and improving the customer experience, and new technology helps make that happen.
In fact, technology is changing at such a fast pace that executives surveyed in the recent 2018 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook from Deloitte believe their companies will look “very different” in the next three, five or ten years.
In the report, Scott Smith, Vice-Chairman and US Power and Utilities Leader at Deloitte, said: “We expect digitalization to increasingly enter the spotlight, as electric power companies map out new ways to deploy rapidly advancing technologies to address challenges and harness opportunities.”
Let’s look at some of the innovative trends that are driving the industry in 2018:
1 - Next generation customer engagement
The customer experience (CX) is a crucial element for the success of businesses in today’s world, and that’s no different for those in the utility sector. Companies must become CX-centric or risk the costs associated with dissatisfied customers. Significant technology developments over the past decade have seen customer engagement escalate in all aspects of their life. It’s not enough to interact with a customer by merely sending out a paper bill once a month. Customers now demand increased dialogue with their utility providers, and that means real-time data and updates.
Utility consumers want to be able to pay their bills at the click of a button, they want to compare their usage easily to the previous month and they want to learn how they can make adjustments to their behaviour and save money. Ease of use is incredibly important, so online billing and direct notification and alerts on power outages are now a crucial element in keeping your customer happy. Next generation customer engagement is powered by real-time metering data and provides tools that help consumers interact with their data.
2 - Smart homes, smart customers
Smart devices such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home have become hugely popular over the past few years, and sales of these devices appear to be growing. These devices allow consumers to automate their home, with current trends including remote mobile control, thermostat adjustment, automated heating and text notifications.
These industry disruptors are giving customers increased control over spending, access to real-time information and more options on how to interact with their utilities. As a result, they are disrupting traditional services and winning market share with what is a customer-centric model. However, these smart technologies give utility providers an opportunity to enhance their offering and provide greater customer satisfaction. We’ve moved beyond the experimental stage with home smart devices - consumers expect convenient ways to automate and control their home services from smartphones.
3 - New efficiency in customer service
This generation of customers now demand instant solutions. They are well versed in self-service, having spent decades using the internet, and there is a preference to find and consume information quickly, on a website, or by subscribing to content and ebilling.
Utility providers have an opportunity to provide faster issue resolution and important information through self-serve content and alerts / push notifications. Efficiencies and cost savings for utilities include; lower demand on a call center or in-house customer service department, lower time per call for issue resolution, more effective broadcasting of information at a lower deliver cost.
Implementing the right customer portal software will allow customers to manage their own accounts. This saves customer service representatives from having to type in information manually, helping to cut down on time and potential errors. Self-help features such as videos and tutorials can encourage customer self-service.
4 - Comprehensive feature-rich web portals
A well designed web portal solution will allow utility providers to offer a range of services that customers can interact with at their own convenience. Increased engagement through self-service features will allow utility providers to optimize their processes and deliver an improved return on investment (ROI).
A comprehensive utility portal will automate utility forms, cutting out those frustrating paper forms that were once handled through PDFs, spreadsheets and other time consuming methods. Making these available through your customer’s browser, tablet or smartphone is a cost-effective and time saving strategy that can improve engagement with your consumer and enhance their overall experience.
A feature-rich web portal will take into account the complete 360 customer experience, from becoming a new customer, to managing services, ebilling, online payments, smart tools, utility service notifications and alerts - to request for disconnection when the customer moves on.
Technology has created innovative opportunities for traditional services in the power, water, gas and telecom utilities industries. Companies are now in a better position to engage with their customers and create a more enjoyable, and useful experience.
Contact SilverBlaze today to find out how we can help improve your customer experience today, and implement an innovative customer portal solution that will become a platform for the future.