Customer self service portals are constantly adapting to meet the ever-changing needs of the customers using them. Sometimes trends stay the same for years and other times, shifts in technology and customer expectations bring forth the need for new and innovative ideas.
When it comes to customer portals for utility companies, here are five major trends that you should be aware of right now. Understanding these trends will ensure your utility has a customer experience in place to improve customer satisfaction, drive customer engagement and allow you to access better internal efficiencies.
#1 – Online Billing
Online billing gives your customers the ability to pay their bills directly from their desktop, laptop, or mobile device when it’s most convenient for them. With the right utility software, your customers can also sign up for pre-authorized payments, ensuring their bills are paid on time every month.
Streamlining and automating your backend processes is essential if you want your utility to improve efficiencies, cut costs and offer an improved customer experience (CX). That’s why in 2022 your utility needs to go paperless.
A paperless approach will help speed up your revenue cycle, offer self-service support to your customers, improve the customer experience and free your sales team up to focus on higher-value tasks.
#2 – Environmentally-friendly Practices
Sustainability is a key concern for many customers around the world. They don’t just want to live more environmentally-friendly lives, but they also want the companies they interact with to be more sustainable as well.
Online billing is not only effective for speeding up billing processes and sharing information, it also means that your business will be producing less paper for billing, follow-up, and past due notifications. This is just one way self-service portals help you and your customers become more environmentally friendly.
But there are other ways that customer service portals can increase environmentally friendly practices for utility companies. One of the biggest is allowing customers to access data usage information so that they can adapt their usage to reduce their carbon footprint, reduce costs and feel like they are in control of their service. This not only helps your customer live more sustainably. Their efforts will also feed into your utility’s environmental goals.
#3 – Remote Account Access
Smartphones have taken over other channels like desktop. They are now the main platform for many day-to-day activities across generations.
Utility providers can no longer just have the traditional websites designed for desktop only viewing. They need responsive websites that provide the same experience across devices and mobile apps that make it easy for customers to access and change their account information on a smart device.
Another issue is that many utility customers are not able to visit a physical office or call their customer service department during regular office hours. The good news is, modern electric utility software makes it possible for customers to access their account when they want, where they want. Not only does this capability increase engagement, it also increases customer satisfaction by allowing them to take an active role in their utilities and increases how quickly bills are paid.
#4 – Alerts and Notifications
The connected world also means consumers now expect more communication from the companies they do business with– utility providers are no different.
With the right utility software, customers can receive instant updates and notifications regarding their services. This means customers are made aware of any upcoming changes to their utility service as soon as they become available. Utilities can also update customers on outages and when service is expected to be up and running again.
Looking into the future, we expect this trend to evolve and incorporate a wider range of notifications.
#5 – Workflow Automation
With customers demanding answers, seeking information and wanting communication from their utility providers more than ever before, workflow automation is a crucial aspect of a utility provider’s customer experience.
Automated workflows let utility providers increase the efficiency and speed with which they work and resolve customer issues. By implementing self-service strategies that let customers resolve their own problems, you can also maximize resources so that staff can work on more complex issues.
In addition, SilverBlaze Smart Forms software integrates seamlessly into your current business practices, helping your customers automate interactions and connect with your utility on a 24/7 basis.
These are just some of the trends we have seen in self-service for utility companies. If your self-service portal doesn’t offer these, then it may be time for an upgrade. Book a demo of the award-winning SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities today.