By Andrew Dill, Sales Executive for West’s Utilities Team
As a utility provider, you’ve kept the power on, you bill fairly and your technicians respond in a timely manner.
That’s great. But in today’s experience-driven world, it may not be enough to satisfy your customers.
Like all industries, customer expectations of utility providers have changed dramatically in the last decade. No longer are people just looking for the best product or service at the best price. They want customer experiences (CX) to remember and brands that remember them.
Unfortunately, some utility providers have a long way to go on that front. The American Customer Satisfaction Index ranks industries every year. Last year, municipal utilities came 41st out of 43 ranked industries, just ahead of internet service providers and subscription TV.
Retailers and other businesses have jumped fully on-board the CX wagon, and now customers expect the same from their service providers, including utilities. Here are a few initial steps to take to start powering up CX for utilities:
Don’t treat your customers like “rate payers.”
Utilities must shift away from the notion that customers are simply “rate payers” and begin adopting a customer-centric approach to all facets of their business.
Customer demands dictate that their utility provider know “Who I am,” “Why I’m contacting them” and “How I want to be communicated with.”
Utility providers who develop ongoing, personal relationships with their customers will be ahead of the CX curve. Talk to your customers and learn what they want to say and how and where they want to communicate with you.
Build proactively to benefit the customer.
Now that you’ve talked with customers, take it a step further. Find a technology partner who can answer their concerns with business analytics and intelligence to find solutions to problems they haven’t thought of, yet.
When you proactively make improvements, it creates obvious benefits to CX for utilities, but there’s financial benefit, too. In regulated markets, any re-investment in your business is directly dependent upon how potential improvements would benefit the end customer.
Innovative projects answer what they want and will certainly strengthen your rate case the next time you’re in front of the PUC. Projects could range from infrastructure improvements to new customer service technology, like updating your contact center or IVR. Give West a call to learn more about finding the right solution for your business.
Create consistent service across channels.
Lastly, as you increase your Customer Experience Lifecycle Management (CXLM) maturity, create an engagement strategy to apply your new solutions across channels. Customers have numerous ways to talk to you, including laptops, phones, tablets and even smart watches. According to a recent study, 86 percent of consumers expect companies to let them choose a method for follow-up.
As utilities adopt these channels, a consistent CX environment becomes even more important. Customers who report an outage via the web or IVR should have similar experiences. Consistency across channels conditions customers to utilize automated solutions. That lowers costs, increases satisfaction and answers the how and where desires customers have.
And it’s good for business. Customers don’t want to “re-tell their story” every time they use a different channel to reach their utility provider. If a customer can’t pay his bill via IVR, a clear view of all interactions across channels lets an agent pick up right where the customer left off. It’s more satisfying for the customer, easier for the agent and less expensive for the company.
For more help building great CX for utilities, download our tip sheet to learn how to connect with your utility customers.
Recent studies have shown that providing “reliable” service – keeping the lights on – is no longer enough. Customer satisfaction scores from analysts like J.D. Power are significant key performance indicators for utilities, and that satisfaction is intimately tied customer’s sensibilities … the core of CX.
CXLM connects you to your customers and provides a path for utilities to tie together backend systems, including customer information, field and outage management, billing and numerous communication solutions from different vendors.
Exceptional CX doesn’t just provide enjoyment for consumers. With increased satisfaction and improved efficiency, improving CX for utilities is just good business.