Despite the lowest monthly bills in 10 years, J.D. Power shows that the utility industry remains near the back of the pack in customer satisfaction when compared to industries like retail banking or auto insurance.[i] In a retail-driven customer experience (CX) landscape where even mailing complimentary flowers to customers isn’t unheard of, it’s not hard to see where some utility CX struggles stem from.
People rely on electricity for everything from drying their hair in the morning, to charging their phones at night, and typically only contact a provider when their (understandable) complacency is disturbed. Building a trusting customer-to-business relationship is a tough task when interactions are limited to a few sporadic bouts of panic and outrage annually. The customer and the utility company both suffer.
The challenge of adhering to strict Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) communication regulations adds yet another layer of complexity in delivering more proactive customer care — the importance of which J.D. Power senior director John Hazen describes as “hard to overstate.”[ii]
A recent FCC declaratory ruling is opening the door for utilities to more proactively communicate with their customers, providing a key opportunity to shift the way customers perceive their utility company relationships.
Traditionally, utility companies were required to receive prior express consent from a customer in order to contact them via mobile device (except in emergency situations) with prerecorded voice or text messages. Under the new ruling, any customer who provides a phone number when signing up with a utility is considered to have given express consent and can receive a variety of convenient, and timely, alerts and reminders.
With eight percent more customer interest in receiving outage text messages over just one year, it’s easy to see how important more proactively engaging utility customers will be in the not-so-distant future.[iii]
Now utilities are free to call customers when bills are quickly approaching. They are free to send customers text messages with information on low-cost or subsidized services. And customers are free to finally have a truly connected relationship with their utility company.
Customers’ experiences with their utility companies shouldn’t just end when power is restored following an outage. From billing reminders to heat advisory warnings and planned outages, the FCC’s decision to shift consent to phone numbers provided upon service activation allows for greater communication transparency for customers and utility companies alike.
Now living in a world in which 87 percent of people have their phones by their side both day and night[iv], this declaratory ruling can act as a major step forward for utilities seeking to establish tighter bonds with increasingly mobile customers. Now utility companies have the chance to capitalize on an opportunity that could completely transform the industry’s customer care reputation.
Join us at one of our upcoming TCPA webinars — with Chartwell on September 21 or with Zpryme on September 28 — to learn more about optimizing your communication strategy in light of this major FCC ruling.
[i] “Overall Satisfaction Is Up and Monthly Bills Down, Yet Electric Providers Still Lag Behind Other Industries in Customer Satisfaction, J.D. Power Study Finds.” J.D. Power, 13 July 2016. Web. 2 Aug. 2016.
[ii] J.D. Power
[iii] Henderson, Russ. Proactive Communication Channels and Information. Publication. Atlanta: Chartwell, 2016. Print.
[iv] Adams, Laura, Elizabeth Burkholder, and Katie Hamilton. “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile.” (n.d.): Google. Web. 2 Aug. 2016.