By Mechele Herres, Business Development Executive for West’s Utilities Team
As much as utility providers may try to create exceptional experiences for their customers, one factor often gets in the way: payments. No one likes to see a bill in the mail, but with the right messaging, your payment process can improve customer experience (CX).
When everything goes right, utilities have little contact with their customers. That’s why every piece of your business’ communication ecosystem must work together to provide great CX. Of course, that includes billing messages.
A bill may be the only interaction your customer has with you, so follow these steps to make this monthly contact one to look forward to, not one to dread.
Build a relationship from the first bill.
This is your first contact since your new customer signed up for services, so make them feel welcome. Send a welcome message that explains the bill and where to call for help. Make sure the customer knows what to expect from you.
With this first step, the payment process can improve customer experience, but it has business benefits, as well. You can defer calls and late payments by setting expectations early on. It never hurts to over communicate with your customers. Being concise and transparent is key.
Get to know them and be proactive.
How do your customers want to be contacted? You can learn a lot about that by how they pay their bill. If someone opted out of paper bills, they probably don’t want to get your newsletter by mail. Managing communication preferences not only makes it easy to gather this data but also to act on it.
Second, send surveys or monitor how your customers respond on social media. Knowing the persona of your clientele and where they are in their customer journey can help you understand what they value when reaching out.
As a start, send tips to cut back on electricity usage. Promote an easier way to pay their bill. And find a communications partner who supports proactive notifications to send reminders and answer questions before your customers pick up the phone.
Continually upgrade your billing process.
Ask the right questions to make the right improvements. How many payments are received through various channels? Are customers responding to your interactive voice response (IVR), calling your contact center or showing up in person? Do customers fail to finish the payment process in any channels? Make sure you’re offering the right channels for customers to make payments the way they want.
Without the right technology, these advanced analytics can be hard to track. But partners like West provide strategic consultation and expert CX design across all channels. Your partner will analyze your data, design and test ongoing changes and find the answers to the right questions so you can stay focused on business.
Seek out customer feedback.
Analytics are an important data-gathering tool, but they don’t provide the whole picture. Tools like West’s Insight Survey connect to your IVR and give you direct feedback from your customers. Bringing consumers into the conversation is critical for creating exceptional CX.
So to recap: send positive messaging, be personal and proactive, find a partner to upgrade and maintain all your channels and bring customers into the conversation. Contact West Interactive Services to learn more about research methods and CX design so even the often stressful payment process can improve customer experience.
But your CX strategy can’t be limited to billing. Learn how to power up CX for utilities across all business functions to create deeper connections with your customers and remove the bite from the payment process.