By David Cathey, Vice President, Utilities
The world runs on data. Data drives sales, justifies infrastructure improvements and provides a visual measure of success. And utilities can even use customer data to improve customer experience (CX).
Your company has data on everything. You know how many kilowatts you produce every month; you can predict volume; and you can use that data to suggest fair rates and important upgrades.
But how are you using customer data to reduce cost and improve CX?
While many utilities review empirical data before making a rate case, fewer are actively using customer data to improve CX. But this is a simple way to leverage information in your back pocket to build your utility brand.
Some utilities have realized that and emerged ahead of the curve. Here are the top ways they’ve used their customer data to improve CX in their businesses:
Cutting costs by cutting words.
Data helps solve problems even before the customer starts talking. When a customer calls or texts your contact center, the process begins. You have your customers’ contact information, so you can immediately identify who is on the other line.
This goes beyond caller ID. Automatic number identification (ANI) reduces customer effort and portrays your business as knowledgeable, personal and caring. But there are financial incentives, too.
One major utility company recently partnered with West and decreased its average inbound-IVR call length by more than 11 percent, dropping from 153 seconds to 135 seconds. The only change was increasing ANI matching from 20 percent of calls to 60 percent.
Cutting excess verbiage with ANI has the potential to save one municipality thousands annually, all because an IVR no longer has to ask a caller for his or her name.
Sending the right messages on the right channels.
You can learn a lot about your customers from past interactions. Do they like talking on the phone or prefer texting? Are they quick to call when the power goes out? Do they have a family or do they live on their own?
Answers to all of these are sitting in your customer data, and each is a piece of a customer profile. With this profile, utilities can decide how often to reach out and what channel to use.
But one question is even more effective: how would you like to be contacted? Collecting communication preferences is a crucial piece of using customer data to improve CX. If you capture their preference, then the profile doesn’t matter. They can always be contacted in the right channel, or even in the right language.
One West utility client is projected to save thousands annually by storing language preferences instead of prompting during every call. And 92 percent of customers asked another utility to send at least one bill reminder by text.
Preference management is also an important step in maintaining compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which protects consumers from unsolicited messages. Check out West’s compliance solutions for voice and text to learn more about how you can collect preference information and remain compliant with ever-changing regulations.
Improving self-service with continual updates.
If you can’t reach your customers, you can’t communicate. So no matter how advanced your solutions are, top utilities offer multiple methods of authentication if a caller has been misidentified.
Self-service solutions can identify callers by their name or account number, but make sure the caller can easily transfer to an agent, too. Then the agent can update the caller’s information so the next call goes more smoothly.
Authentication is not only important to your customers. It also supplies important cost savings to utilities. That’s why West partners with utilities to implement best practices, which save thousands in agent costs while increasing customer satisfaction.
Simple automated solutions can have long-term financial benefits and play a major role in utilities’ customer satisfaction scores. With the right partner collecting and maintaining a customer database, any utility can use its customer data to improve CX.
And for more CX help, check out the four ways utilities’ payment process can improve customer experience, or contact West Interactive Services at 800.841.9000.
So whether you’re considering your next rate case or future J.D. Power reviews, stay ahead of the curve and don’t forget about data.
David has been with West Corporation for 16 years, serving in various positions and locations including Nebraska, Georgia and Alabama. David graduated from Auburn University and received his M.B.A. from Troy University, and he now serves as Vice President at West in Ohio, where he helps utility providers across the nation improve their customer experience with integrated technology solutions and strategy.