Social media is no longer just a way for consumers to connect with their friends. In fact, social media is now one of the first places they go to connect with the businesses and services they pay for, whether it be to lodge a complaint, to receive information or to ask a question.
Consumers use social media in every aspect of their lives. It’s one of the most popular online activities that users engage in, and a study from Emarsys found that there’s a staggering 3.2 billion social media users worldwide – that’s 42 per cent of the world’s entire population.
Not only that, but we spend an increasing amount of time each day perusing social media. A Globalwebindex study discovered that an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes are spent per day, per person, on social networks and messaging.
This opens up the opportunity for utility providers to use social media to reach out to their audience, and improve customer engagement.
With customer engagement continuing to be one of the top concerns among utility executives worldwide, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and LinkedIn are crucial aspects for any customer engagement strategy.
Utilities that embrace social media will benefit from increased customer satisfaction, but starting up can be scary. Many utilities are fighting the use of social media due to a fear of the potential backlash or negative commentary that they might receive.
How can social media benefit your utility?
Historically, utility providers are late adopters of new technology. This is largely driven by a lack of competition in their respective markets. However, this is now changing as utility providers are starting to understand just how important a customer-centric business plan is for customer satisfaction in the 21st Century.
A social media strategy is a perfect way to improve a utility’s customer-centricity, but many are taking the risk-averse approach and avoiding it.
It’s not that utility providers don’t have social media channels – they do. It’s simply the case that most aren’t offering enough value to customers to encourage them to engage with their utility.
Social media represents an opportunity for your utility to discuss topics such as energy conservation and demand, educate your customers, to emphasize branding and promotions and to send updates in regards to outages.
Here are some of the key ways your utility can benefit from adopting a social media strategy:
Drive conversations: Social media will help you initiate new conversations with your customer, drive existing conversations and share conversations with others in your community. By encouraging customers to engage with your utility and answering their questions, you’ll be able to turn disgruntled customers into highly satisfied clients.
Complement existing customer service channels: Today’s customers want more communication options, and they no longer want to phone up your customer support team. That’s why you need an omnichannel strategy that allows customers to contact you on their preferred device at a time that works for them, reducing customer effort. Social media is the perfect complement to your existing customer portal and customer service channels – but remember, it’s not a replacement.
Keep customers up-to-date with power outages: If your customer experiences a utility outage, they want to know exactly what the issue is and when it will be back up-and-running. Social media is a great way to keep your customers updated with what’s happening, and don’t forget you can also do this through notifications and alerts directly to their preferred device as well.
Encourage customer-to-utility communication: Your utility’s engineering and operations team can work significantly faster if your customers are helping them to find the source of outages. By encouraging customers to communicate with you any issues with their utility, you’ll be able to find the cause of outages and fix them faster – ensuring your customers are happier.
Help customers to save money: A customer-centric business plan is all about providing your customers with advice that helps them optimize their utilities, allowing them to save money on their monthly bills. Social media provides your utility with the perfect platform to send messages about energy-efficient practices, which in turn will boost customer satisfaction.
Combined with an innovative customer portal that drives customer conversations and allows utility customers to manage their entire account, social media is a fantastic way to improve your utility’s overall customer engagement and customer-centric business plan.
Ready to find out how SilverBlaze’s unique, award-winning Customer Portal for Utilities can drive your organization’s customer engagement even further? Contact our team of experts today. We would love to answer your questions.