How To Improve Customer Experience In The Utilities Industry

<p>In the utilities industry, clients’ expectations are at an all-time high, and engagement is increasingly challenging. Take advantage of that. Improve your customer experience and gain a competitive edge.</p>

08 / 08 / 19

Customer experience (CX) in the utilities industry was never a priority. Its purpose was simply to provide people with energy, water, and other basic amenities. However, the number of companies has increased and so have the expectations of the consumers. With so many choices on the market, retaining clients is harder than ever. But you can take advantage of that and increase your revenue by providing better CX.


Why CX Is Important


Good customer experience is an investment in the future for any utility company. The happier your client is, the less likely they are to switch providers. This industry is different from many others. Even though few pay close attention to their services, everyone is using them. This means everyone is a potential advocate for your company. Provide them with a service they would want to share. Advocacy and customer loyalty is necessary to stay competitive.


In regards to competition, you have to realize that many companies are already working on this. Industry leaders have moved away from treating their consumers as nothing but numbers. People often switch providers after just a single poor experience. However, if you have already established a good relationship, they will be more forgiving if there is ever an issue like a billing error. This applies even more if you provide utilities to businesses.





What Makes a Utilities Company Customer-Centric


Good customer service makes an imprint on the mind a consumer. Instead of just sending out monthly bills, take on the role of a trusted adviser. Replace the effort of your clientele with ease and benefits. However to do this, you must first understand what matters most to them.


Customer Effort Scores (CES) is a metric that helps you achieve that goal. It tells you how happy your clientele actually is with your product. Improving this score is possible by providing perks like easy sign-up, a simple-to-navigate website, and self-service options.


Allow them to customize the payment process. Let them choose the due date, flat-rate or installment billing and things of that nature. This journey along with the management of usage and outages contributes the most to the CX.


How you handle various issues also matters a lot. For instance, if a consumer is late with the payment, don’t threaten them. This is bad customer service. Just remind them with a message containing information about their account and a link where they can pay. Just remember to make CX a priority at every level.





Customer Experience and Engagement in Utilities


To provide your clients with smooth CX you must first analyze their journey. Evaluate how many interactions they have to have in order to perform a simple payment. Check how many people they need to contact. The number of touchpoints they use to satisfy their needs should be as minimal as possible. Everything from questioning a bill to managing accounts should be hassle-free. In fact, self-service is the most preferred option for an end-user.


When it comes to engagement, people don’t actually want to be in contact with their providers. Accenture research has found that only 44% of respondents want any sort of contact with their providers. They prefer a one-stop solution that satisfies all of their utility needs. However, It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to reach out to them.


Along with convenience, personalization also drives engagement. Track all of the client’s actions and create a single customer view (SCV). This allows you to customize your advertisement tactics, among other things.


If you have a new plan that you are trying to push, have a look at the history of your customers. Some prefer monthly payments, while others would rather pay up front for the year. This type of data should be taken into account in your offerings. A personally tailored message will attract the attention of the consumer increasing the chance of a successful sale.


CX and Technology


Everything mundane and repetitive can be automated. All of the aforementioned features can be handled by custom software. Market leaders are already taking advantage of technological innovations, and so should you to be competitive. Everyone has a smartphone or a computer with internet access. Why not use that?


Make things easy. Allow your clients to pay bills with a single tap of a button. Remember, convenience is key. Make sure to utilize cloud synchronization so that the relevant data is the same on all devices.


Collecting feedback through software is more organic. Instead of calling or SMSing your users, do it through notifications and alerts on your platform or via their email instead. Integrate in-app surveys, but make them short. Most importantly, listen to what they say. Remember to act upon your customer focus.


Current trends push utilities industries toward digitalization. One such prevalent technology is the Internet of Things (IoT). Integrated solutions of this nature provide efficient management to the user and advanced data tracking for you.  


Of course, having your own mobile app or online portal has some drawbacks as well. Getting people to install an extra application on their phone can be hard. However, if you have a useful product, your customer loyalty will ensure that the word spreads organically. And even if you don’t have a mobile app, a website is a must.


However, the biggest issue is the development itself. Your utilities company probably doesn’t employ its own team of software developers. But there are ways around that problem too. So whether or not you want to invest in continuous improvement of your business is up to you.





Using Data Analytics to Improve Customer-Centricity


One of the advantages of using custom utilities software is data analytics. You can gather intelligence on all kinds of metrics, from operational performance indicators to customer satisfaction. Some companies even put the latter at the top of the executives’ dashboard to act as a reminder. You can track the impact of changes you make and adjust your strategies accordingly.


This can benefit your consumers as well. One of the things they may especially appreciate is predictive analysis. According to Deloitte’s research, advanced data analytics have proven to be 450% more accurate than any other prediction methods. If the forecasts state that rates will increase, a warning will help them anticipate and plan their budget appropriately.


One of the demographics most notoriously hard to engage with is millennials. However, data analysis makes this engagement possible. Unorthodox features like the gamification of energy saving can aid with this. In addition, on-page visualization of metrics such as electric power usage improves CX regardless of the demographic.


Conclusion


The utilities industry is rapidly moving away from its impersonal past. Improving CX has become a necessity for the market. Companies drive satisfaction and engagement by integrating more customization and convenience in the clients’ journey. Technological solutions, such as mobile applications and websites, make everything streamlined and easy for both the provider and the consumer. Incorporating data analytics further boosts the usefulness of these tools. Now that you know how to achieve your CX goals, you can start applying this knowledge in your own company.

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