Have you heard of a customer satisfaction metric called Customer Effort Score (CES)? It attempts to measure customer experience in terms of how easy the transaction was for the customer. A CES survey for example, asks "Overall, how easy was it to solve your problem today?", or "How much effort did you personally have to put forth to resolve your issue?" Studies have shown that CES correlates stronger to customer loyalty than other metrics.
An HBR article, "Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers", concluded, "When it comes to service, companies create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily."
The message for utilities, is that customer service platforms need to solve real problems, and do so with low effort. When evaluating customer portal software, the focus should be on relevant features that address specific needs, such as utility consumption monitoring, and bill payment. But, it's important to consider the user design of the software, because that is a significant factor in reducing customer effort and increasing customer engagement.
A portal software which is not intuitive to navigate, has features hidden in menu systems, lacks graphics and visual cues - is one that will require the customer to spend more time getting to the information they need, or be more frustrating to complete a transaction.
Reducing customer effort on a customer portal, is a goal that will take into account the visual design of the software, the information structure, and even the wording used to explain how to navigate or work through a process.
We've all experienced an APP or a website that got it right. The response is, 'that was easy' - and it resonates with everyone.
With today's consumers readily going online to share reviews and experiences, keeping an eye on customer effort can help a customer service organization take a pulse on the likelihood of negative word-of-mouth feedback.
According to the HBR study, CES is a strong predictor of referral likelihood, as 81% of customers reporting high effort say they would speak negatively about the company to others.
Customer service levels and customer expectations are not static. As more consumers access services online, they expect equivalent convenience from all the other companies they regularly do business with.
Whether it is accessing account information across multiple devices, or utilizing new digital processing of transactions such as ordering services or paying monthly bills - the preference for online services is the new norm.
It's worthwhile for utility customer service departments to consider ways to evaluate customer effort and work towards making interactions easy and valued.
The SilverBlaze Customer Portal is designed to be attractive and easy to use. The best way to evaluate it for your utility, is to experience it first-hand. With a guided demo, you’ll be able to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and walk through the portal to access key data and functionality. We’ll also show you administration features such as how to manage users or publish content. Contact us to set up a convenient time.
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.