The utility industry is facing its biggest challenges. They are already ridden with issues like changing economics, new competitors and aggregators entering the market, and declining loads. However, their biggest challenge seems to be the ever-changing customer expectations and declining satisfaction level of their customers. The American Customer Satisfaction Index Energy Utilities Report 2018-2019 shows customer satisfaction with gas and electric service providers falls 2.7% to a mere 73.2 on a scale of 0 to 100.
In the recent past, the utility industry has realized that it needs to stop viewing customers as ratepayers or bill payers and adopt a customer-centric approach. To become trusted advisors on the customers’ journey, utility companies are working hard to deliver positive customer experiences throughout their customer journey. However, there’ s much work to be done before they can perfect their approach.
Here are a few suggestions that can help utility companies develop a culture of delivering positive customer experience every single time.
1. Examine The Customer’s Journey In Its Entirety
Utility companies need to find out where customer satisfaction needs some improvement as well as areas where unnecessary contacts and costs exist. Rather than focusing on a particular touchpoint where the satisfaction scores are high due to interaction with a helpful and courteous agent, they should focus on the entire journey to find out scopes of improvement.
While excellent service throughout the journey is ideal, a company can achieve faster results when one pays attention to specific areas known to boost customer satisfaction. The good customer service experience can leave a positive impression on the customer’s mind and can also be a defining factor that compels customers to come back.
Therefore, utility businesses must work on delivering prompt, courteous, and helpful customer service at every opportunity of customer interaction.
Providing prompt and courteous customer service during the billing and payment journey, communications regarding managing usage and outage and resolving billing and payment issues are significant contributors to customer satisfaction. Focusing on one or two such areas at one point in time can help a utility company improve its customer satisfaction score.
2. Offer Technology-Based Solutions
Consumers today are tech-savvy and therefore offering technology-based solutions like online portals and mobile apps can help utility companies engage with their customers in an effective way.
When technology is integrated with the customer journey, it allows businesses to develop an end-to-end relationship with its customers. Self-Service and the use of digital channels like live chat and emails not only help companies to bring down the operational cost but also drive more satisfaction to the customers.
3. Introduce Personalization
Utility companies can use the data received through customer interaction to nurture their relationships with their customers. It allows them to offer personalized recommendations to specific customers. Even customers who are already engaged may seek advice on the next course of action regarding saving money, becoming energy efficient, and health impact.
Utility companies that deliver service beyond customer’s expectations can enjoy far better relationships with their customers. Therefore, to improve customer relationships, a company must opt for data-driven personalization in all its customer interactions. Personalized interaction makes customers feel valued. As a result, they feel delighted.
4. Highlight The Financial Benefits Of Participation
No matter how good your service is, the financial benefit will always have its charm. If you can make your customers understand the financial benefits they will receive in an easily-comprehendible personalized way; they will be more likely to participate in a program.
Customers want to know what financial benefits they will receive if they use a service or participate in a program. Using easy-to-understand, personalized information, and graphics to demonstrate how a bill relates to energy usage is one way to drive satisfaction with the billing and payments journey.
5. Measure Progress With Metrics
For the improvement to be continuous, utility companies must set clear goals and use metrics to track performance and the impact of the changes they make. Parameters should be used to measure customer satisfaction on their journeys as well as operational indicators. Both the insights are essential to usher continuous improvement.
Effective customer engagement is a surefire way for utility companies to become successful. The utility industry can only deliver superior quality customer experience when they pay attention to what customers want and design programs to maximize customer participation and satisfaction.