The Energy and the Utility Sector is going through some breakthrough changes. Today, most companies see expanding opportunities –for addressing their customers’ digital needs, and finding out innovative ways for managing and controlling their energy usage and costs, while managing operations efficiently. Smart customer engagement solutions can help utility service providers fulfill their current and future demands by delivering digital solutions and building future-ready businesses. It further enables modernization of business processes, improves customer satisfaction, through the adoption of new, advanced technologies.
What Will Work for the Utility Service Providers?
Today, it’s become highly essential for utility companies to define their unique needs, outcomes, and context in which the transformation needs to be implemented. It’s also advised that before adopting a new customer engagement model, the leadership panel of every utility company must ideate on the following questions:
- How is the brand perceived by its customers?
Brand perception is highly connected to the experience of existing customers I.e., how they talk about the brand to others. A deep dive into this question will reveal insights on several aspects such as gaps in experience across the customer journey and customer communication channels. Also, the leadership should also define how they’re willing to be perceived by their customers in the future.
- How to create value for your customers?
Customer engagement can be further improved via personalization, omni channel customer experience, faster response time, self-service through mobile and web, and AI-powered chatbots and analytics. However, building empathy for customers and defining value should come first before making a decision on the kind of tools and processes that work best.
- What business outcomes can be driven through the customer engagement model?
Customer engagement is not a one-time transformation, however, it’s an ongoing effort. The linkage between engagement and business outcomes needs to be clearly defined and communicated to all stakeholders. This is particularly essential to sustain the transformation. This way, success metrics in terms of cost leadership, better process efficiency, higher customer retention, and reduced revenue leakage can be easily accomplished.
Key Elements to a New Customer Engagement Model
Each utility company needs to design a customer engagement model, which works best for it. However, companies need to take into account the four key elements that are crucial for any model:
- Focusing on customer journey’s
Customer engagement must focus on the journey that impacts the overall CX, and not merely the individual touchpoints. For instance, most of the utility companies score poorly on the billing and payment journeys. Also, these are some of the major contributors to customer calls. It’s possible that certain touchpoints across the web, call center, and field services may be functioning well in themselves. But the entire experience may not be pleasant. Therefore, the model needs to address the experience as a whole.
- Digital-first strategy
Technology is meant for enabling a digitally-driven customer experience. Right from technological innovations like Robotic Process Automation to intelligent tools I.e., chatbots and self-service channels, technology is all the way redefining the CX. Automation of tasks enables faster resolution to customer’s queries. Self-service and intelligent tools provide customers with the ability to manage their queries while multi-tasking.
The benefits of the digital-first approach can be seen to a larger extent in the utility industry. This can open up many opportunities for early movers to create a competitive edge. A recent study on customer satisfaction in the utility industry reveals that top players are performing well in the digital experience.
- Creating omni-channel experience
In the utility sector, confusion is always there between a multichannel customer experience and omnichannel CX. For example, it has been often observed that adding a self-service channel may lead to an increase in customer calls and more time taken to get a resolution. This happens when the channels have not been integrated with the customer journey. The key success factor to an omnichannel experience is its seamlessness.
- Analytics-driven processes
As per the latest report, it has been observed that advanced analytics can boost the profitability of utilities by manifolds. It can create a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
Great customer engagement models provide the opportunity to enable analytics-driven processes that can integrate data seamlessly across processes and channels to generate real-time insights and informed decision-making.
- Reinventing the agent experience
Many utility companies are struggling a lot to create agent experiences that can empower their employees to do their best work. Agents are often faced with problems like multiple screens, disjointed applications, and no common user interface. It can directly impact the customer and result in employee frustration, which can lead to high attrition. Utility companies can easily sort out this problem with an intelligence-based agent desktop that gives agents a tailored 360-degree view of the customer and leverages AI to directly provide relevant, context-based information that is clear as well as informative.