Utilities must pay special attention to a set of crucial moments related to customer-facing processes to make the most out of every engagement with their customers. With the right technology, these moments are the key to deliver the best experience throughout the journey and will ultimately drive a utility company to succeed.
A wrong assumption has led utilities to shift their focus of attention towards areas that do not represent the core of their business model. That situation has turned out to be ripe for enterprise application vendors that are pushing their technology as the only thing necessary to provide a superior customer experience (CX). However, CX is not a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) product ready to be installed. Rather, CX must be conceived as a company-wide strategy that requires the alignment of staff and technology around customer-facing processes, propelled by business initiatives aimed to guarantee a smooth, cohesive journey.
Furthermore, CX and the journeys themselves are dynamic, changing in accordance with evolving customer expectations. For utilities to keep up in this type of business environment, they require a flexible technology capable of supporting such dynamism. The system implemented to support their operation must enable them to deploy measures aimed at improving customer-facing processes and modify them at ease.
Among those processes, billing and payment is the one that matters the most(1), followed by the service calls and the moving process. Therefore, all efforts and resources must focus on the moments in which these processes take place. According to the consulting firm Accenture, customers spend only 9 minutes a year interacting with their service providers(2). This comes as no surprise gave the fact that if everything flows smoothly, they will never have to reach out to the company. However, utilities need to harness every chance they have to deliver high value to their customers.
1. The billing process.
The billing process is the most predictable and recurrent moment for utilities to communicate with customers. Ironically, it is the worst moment in terms of satisfaction given the anxiety it can produce. The bill has a potential yet to be unleashed, considering that it can be used as more than just an itemized statement of charges and amounts. Simplifying the bill in order to make it more understandable and enhancing it with consumer insights and energy efficiency tips can change the perception customers have about the billing process. Likewise, empowering them with self-service options to manage billing and payment situations is highly appreciated.
Nevertheless, the magic starts even before the bill is generated. With the rise of digital channels, customers expect their utility to keep them informed and deliver proactive alerts regarding billing situations before the bill arrives. Taking the initiative to provide customers with timely consumption and billing information will relieve a very painful point, improving the overall experience and creating a positive impact on the second moment that matters the most.
2. The customer service call.
Customer service calls are highly correlated with the billing process because customers with a problem in their bill are twice as likely to call their utility provider. The availability of self-service channels adds fuel to this problem because this means that if a customer is calling, it is because it is their last resort. In this situation, utilities need to improve the experience provided by customer representatives, providing them with technology that enables a contextual, omnichannel 360° view of the customer to help them solve any service request.
However, technology is not the only thing necessary to relieve the pain associated with a service call. Organizational culture and a representative’s autonomy to take actions aimed to create “wow” moments for customers are essential parts of the strategy to boost customer satisfaction.
3. The moving process.
There is a lot to be done when a customer is moving to a new address. This process is highly demanding in terms of all the activities and communications that need to be synched in order to guarantee the correct change of conditions and uninterrupted service supply. From the moment a customer informs their utility provider about the service transfer request, several processes are triggered to stop the service at the old location and start it at the new one according to the schedule defined. These processes affect metering, billing, customer account, and service information, alongside fieldwork when necessary. In this scenario, a seamless orchestration needs to be carried out, coordinating everything with the support of a holistic system powerful enough to connect all business areas involved in the transfer of the service. The expected outcome is for the customer to turn on the lights at the new address while never being aware of the complex process backstage.
Around 84% of companies working to improve their customer experience report an increase in revenue, but they struggle to find a way to do it(3). The problem becomes increasingly hard to solve given the distracting noise that has led utilities to think their focus should be other than the improvement of core customer-facing processes and service journeys. With only a few moments to interact with their customers, focusing efforts on those that matter the most is the key to success.
(1) Accenture. (2017). Moments that Matter the Most. https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/_acnmedia/pdf-59/accenture-moments-that-matter-full-report.pdf
(2) Accenture. (2017). Re-energizing the New Energy Consumer. https://www.avanade.com/~/media/asset/point-of-view/the-digital-utility-pov.pdf
(3) Genesys. (2019). 10 Customer Experience Statistics to Help You Plan. https://www.genesys.com/blog/post/10-customer-experience-statistics-to-help-you-plan-2019