Utility providers, whether water, sewerage, electricity, gas or telecom, are increasingly realizing that they are in the customer service business.
It hasn’t always been this way. With little to no competition from others within the industry, utility providers in the past have been slow to embrace disruptive technologies that allow them to offer a service that goes above and beyond what their customers expect.
However, with the digital economy and the evolution of technology increasing the amount of choice in all industries, customers are now expecting the same from their utility companies.
Additional competition from renewable energy options, such as solar power, are only adding to that pressure.
Customer engagement is now absolutely essential for your utility. Customers who are more engaged with your company are more likely to be satisfied with your utility’s offering, delighted by your overall customer experience and less likely to complain about the services that you offer.
What is customer engagement?
Customer engagement in the utility industry is highly important, but it can often be confused with the terms customer experience and customer loyalty. These three terms are all interconnected and play an important role in delighting your customers, but each phrase has its own definition:
- Customer experience: Customer experience (CX) is how a customer perceives all of the interactions that they have with your company. A good experience leads to greater customer engagement. A bad experience, however, will leave a customer complaining about the service your utility offers.
- Customer loyalty: Customer loyalty is the emotion that comes from experiencing a great customer experience. While utility providers face no real competition and therefore can’t lose customers, a more loyal customer is significantly more likely to be engaged with your utility – helping you to hit conservation and demand targets, and easing your internal processes.
- Customer engagement: Customer engagement is a collection of all the behaviours and actions that customers take as a result of a superior customer experience. It includes everything from a customer’s involvement with your services and products to their feelings towards your utility.
When creating a customer engagement strategy, it’s important to look at all of these terms. In short, perceptions of your utility’s customer experience will lead to specific emotions about your business, which will then drive customer engagement.
Why should your utility care about customer engagement?
It may seem obvious, but a customer engagement strategy should be high on your utility’s agenda when planning for the future. Customer engagement provides a huge opportunity for your company to improve CX, as well as create a satisfied and happy customer base.
Engaged customers will benefit your utility significantly – actively seeking out your utility products, services, events, content and much more. Customers will do everything from responding to surveys, reading emails and generally engaging with your utility on all fronts – helping your utility to delight customers at every interaction.
How can your utility improve customer engagement?
The shift to customer engagement represents both an opportunity and problem for your utility. If you do nothing, customers are likely to become unsatisfied and potentially complain about your services. If you act, however, then you can significantly strengthen relationships with your customers.
Partnering with third-party vendors can help your utility to improve customer engagement, implement efficiency upgrades and even access some performance-based incentives in some states and countries.
The feature-rich and award-winning SilverBlaze Customer Portal provides a platform for your utility to better connect with customers through notification and alerts, smart metering, ebilling and much more.
The use of a customer portal can help you improve customer engagement, provide an enhanced customer experience, improve customer service efforts, as well as help you save time and money.
Are you looking for more information about implementing a world-class utility customer portal from an outsourced specialist in Canada, serving global clients? Contact SilverBlaze today and learn more about how we can help.