Special programs have become increasingly relevant when it comes to lending a hand to customers and to the environment. Utilities need to realize the numerous benefits of special programs, decide which programs are right for their company, and implement efficient customer journeys to manage them.
The new wave of technological advancements, environmental concerns, and growing regulations have led utilities towards a path of new business opportunities. The combination of these aspects and the ever-growing expectations of customers has boosted the creation of new services and special programs and increase customer loyalty, while also reducing operational costs.
A special program is a set of conditions and benefits put together to achieve the desired customer behavior. These programs empower customers to improve consumption patterns and habits. Although there is an abundance of different utility special programs, most of them fall into one of following categories:
- Low-income: these programs assist customers with financial aid in case they fall behind on their bills and face having the service cut off. through the better utilization of energy or thorough federal grants such as LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), also known as LEAP (Low-income Energy Assistance Program).
- Energy efficiency: these programs help customers reduce their energy consumption by optimizing the efficiency of appliances and mitigating premise structural deficiencies. These programs usually involve the inspection of the customer’s premises to find outdated appliances that consume a lot of energy. While at the visit, the technician also checks for structural deficiencies, such as worn-out insulators, that can cause the air conditioner or heater to consume more energy.
- Seasonal: These programs allow customers to enroll in budget-billing plans that flatten out the bill each month. The programs provide customers peace of mind in seasons where they would otherwise pay much more for their services.
- Medical: these types of programs protect elders or customers in need of specialized medical attention. These programs allow utilities to pinpoint which of their customers require the use of life-sustaining medical equipment to notify them before an intentional service disruption.
- Charity: these programs let customers make a one-time or recurring contribution to a charity cause of their choice.
Regardless of the type of special program, a customer chooses to enroll in, offering different options will be advantageous for the customers and their utilities. The following are the top benefits when offering and enrolling in special programs:
To receive the benefits offered by special programs, utilities must align their organizational culture to place the customers at the center of every decision. Additionally, they need to seek technological tools that enable them to :
- Model the programs according to the needs and expectations of customers.
- Provide frictionless customer journeys that allow customers to easily enroll in and manage their programs.
- Facilitate access to programs through self-service portals and mobile applications.
By combining the changes in the organizational mindset with the implementation of innovative technological tools, utilities will be able to deliver ‘wow’ moments to customers while experiencing mutual benefits.