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What is a Customer Portal and What Benefits Does it Bring a Utility Provider?

Posted on Feb 28, 2019 11:00:00 AM

Ever wondered why your utility provider is lagging behind when it comes to customer satisfaction and engagement? It’s probably because your utility still hasn’t implemented a successful customer portal.

With technology advancing at an incredible rate of knots, the onus is now on utility providers to update their internal processes and consumer-facing technologies if they want to reduce customer effort, improve the customer experience and leave their customers feeling satisfied.

What is a customer portal?

In its simplest definition, a customer portal is a secure website that allows users to manage their account and do things that they would have traditionally been unable to do without the help of a customer service representative.

This self-service portal could involve anything on their utility account, from updating personal information, making a payment, receiving outage notifications, managing their energy or water usage and much more.

Most importantly for your customers, customer portals are available 24/7, 365 days a year on a desktop or mobile device such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet. This means customers can interact with your utility on the device and time that suits them best.

Why are customer portals essential in the current market?

No longer are utility providers a mere name on a bill that comes through the consumer’s door each month. Customers expect improved engagement from their utility companies, whether that be advice on how they can save money each month, notifications about power outages and/or possible water leaks, or simple tips on how they can become more energy efficient.

Not only that, but today’s customers want their issues solved immediately with as little hassle as possible. No longer do they want to pick up the phone and be put on hold while they wait for a member of your customer service team to speak to them.

Your customers want to use their preferred device to either contact your business or find the answer to their query online. If they can’t find what they’re looking for in a few clicks of a button, it’s likely they will be left dissatisfied with your service.

To summarize, customers don’t want to call you for routine queries. They want to access the status of their accounts in a few clicks, they want to receive notifications about their usage, outage updates and current deals - and they don’t want to be the one interacting first.

All these factors mean self-service portals are almost compulsory for any business which wants to succeed in the 21st Century.

So, what are the actual benefits of implementing a customer portal?

Customer portals offer a wide range of benefits for any utility provider, regardless of the service provided, be it water, sewerage, electricity, gas, telecom, there are perhaps two main advantages of implementing a self-service portal into your utility’s processes.

Firstly, they offer a significant improvement to the customer experience, which, in turn, boosts customer satisfaction. Secondly, they improve processes through automation and reduce the demands on customer service agents - allowing your organization to save money.

SilverBlaze has listed just a few of the top benefits a customer portal will offer your utility:

Reduce strain on your customer support team: Everything that your customers might want to know about their accounts should be easily accessible through your customer portal. This will save time for your customer service representatives, allowing them to spend their hours in the office on more complex support tasks that give your customers higher value.

Offer personalized service: A customer portal makes it easier for a customer to update their data and add new information to their accounts. By adding smart forms to your customer portal you will be able to gather important insights into customer data. In turn, this will allow you to offer personalized web content and communications that are tailored to the specific needs of your customers.

Increased engagement with customers: By implementing a customer portal that looks at every step of the customer journey, you will add further value to your service in the eyes of your customer. A customer portal will empower your utility to give consumption advice which enables customers to cut down on costs and live a greener lifestyle. By showing your customer that you care, they will be significantly more invested in your utility and see you as a trusted partner.

We’ve just looked at a few of the benefits that the implementation a customer portal can bring, but there are many more. Contact the SilverBlaze team of experts today if you’d like to learn even more about how our customer portal can transform your business.

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Topics: SilverBlaze Customer Portal