"Utility customer satisfaction" has almost reached buzzword status in the industry.
All over North America, utilities are engaged in a race to see who can improve customer satisfaction and deliver the best customer experience - but, according to some recent data, many utilities are experiencing a decline in utility customer satisfaction.
According to the 2022 Cogent Syndicated Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement: Residential report, a management advisory study from Escalent, customer effort score (CES), which scores the ease of doing business with a utility, has declined overall by six points to 732, as all but three of the 23 interactions used to establish this benchmark are rated more difficult.
The study found that 93 percent of customer satisfaction is tied to CES, meaning higher customer satisfaction is only possible with improvements on customer effort.
Unfortunately, many utility providers are still falling near the bottom of the list when it comes to customer satisfaction metrics, with many industries outperforming the utility sector.
However, enhancing utility customer satisfaction isn’t all too difficult. Outside of providing a reliable service, focusing on things such as the website experience, customer engagement, providing insights to customers and self-service, can all help to dramatically improve customer satisfaction levels. Thankfully, they’re not too difficult to implement.
Here are a few of the top ways in which utility providers can enhance the utility customer satisfaction:
1 - Make Customer Engagement Seamless with a Self-service Platform
With an increasing number of customers demanding access to your utility from many different channels, providing the ability for customers to access their accounts and information through your website or a mobile application is critical.
The implementation of a utility customer portal provides customers with the self-help tools they need to manage their utility usage, pay their bills, receive information alerts and change their account details. Not only is this a far more seamless experience for the customer, it also improves your utility’s internal operations.
2 - Keep Customers Up-to-date About Outages
One of the biggest pain points for utility customers is an outage. When utility providers fail to communicate with their customers during the event of an outage, it seriously damages customer satisfaction.
Thankfully, utility providers are able to easily remedy this. A study from McKinsey found that when customers experience an outage, about 50 percent of customer satisfaction is derived from factors within the direct control of that utility’s customer-service organization. This includes information timeliness, clarity, and ease of access, while the other 50 percent focuses on outage frequency and duration. Simply providing outage notifications can dramatically improve customer satisfaction.
3 - Offer Online Billing
Online billing, or eBilling, is expected by today’s customers. Customers want to be able to pay utility bills online with a credit card or bank withdrawal. Fewer people than ever want to pay their utility bill by cheque or mail. Customers simply no longer want to leave their house to make a payment.
With eBilling, your utility makes it a far superior experience for customers to pay their bills and you also speed up the process in which money is sent to your company - improving your cash flow.
4 - Ask for Customer Feedback
One of the most effective ways to learn how to improve your customer satisfaction is to ask your customers. By implementing a system in which your utility gathers honest feedback from your customers, you can make continuous improvements that drive up customer satisfaction levels.
To ensure this is effective, you’ll want to make sure that you collect feedback that you‘d probably prefer not to hear. A good way of doing this is to set up an anonymous feedback line or anonymous surveys where customers can feel safe expressing their opinions.
5 - Position Yourself as a Utility Partner, Not Just a Provider
With tools such as customer portals and smart meters, it has never been easier for utility providers to provide usage data and insights to their customers. Delivering personalized reports to customers about their utility usage is a great way to build trust and improve customer satisfaction.
Utility providers are able to position themselves as a partner to the customer, giving the customer the insights they need to meet their energy goals, cut costs and even reduce their carbon footprint.
Interested in learning more about how you can improve utility customer satisfaction through the implementation of a customer portal? Book a demo of the award-winning SilverBlaze platform today.