Today, customer expectations are higher than ever, and utilities are constantly striving to improve their customer engagement. To boost their customer experience (CX) strategies and take their engagement tactics to the next level, utilities should focus on choosing the right technology provider that offers modern solutions to achieve these goals.
As technology has evolved, the world has become more globalized, and people have easy access to all kinds of information. This causes an increase in expectations on how service providers are communicating with their customers. In fact, the rise of personalized consumer experiences across industries such as traveling, shopping, entertainment, and financial services, has set a new standard of customer engagement for utilities. Utility customers are constantly demanding better levels of service, a variety of programs to choose from, high levels of engagement, and quick solutions to all their problems. They want to be able to interact with their utilities at any time, from any place, and from any device. Not only do they want direct availability, but they also want to receive consistent personalized offers that simplify their day-to-day life.
As customers begin to demand more than just efficiency from their service providers, utilities have started adopting different technologies that have helped them to better serve those consumers. Unfortunately, meeting these expectations is a great challenge for utilities. They need to deliver a reliable service that will ultimately improve customers’ lives, while balancing environmental responsibility and sustainability for the communities around them. These companies also struggle to find software solutions that can provide world-class CX and customer care, and robust billing capabilities at an affordable cost.
These changes in customer demands have pushed utilities to work harder in developing multiple CX strategies that improve engagement and perception to stay one step ahead in the market. However, most strategies focus on a reactive approach that leaves customers feeling frustrated and unsatisfied.
Let’s take a closer look at how utilities have evolved their customer engagement strategies through time:
Back in the day, utilities used one monthly bill as their only way of communicating with their customers. This type of engagement was very basic, where service providers had one shot to reach out to all of their users. Communicating through the bill proved to be unappealing and often left customers frustrated with unanswered questions or concerns. If customers required help, support, or if any problem emerged, they would have to contact the call center directly to help them resolve their issues.
Eventually, utilities began evolving their technological platforms and created web portals to offer a new digital channel to deliver more detailed information about their customers’ services. The portal also displayed answers to frequently asked questions or doubts, but this strategy still lacked a simple way for customers to quickly interact with their utility company.
Utilities soon realized that providing information to customers was simply not enough. They started including digital communications to notify customers when a situation or event occurred. With this approach, service providers were trying to keep customers informed, but ended up causing more customer frustrations. In fact, instead of preventing events from occurring, they were just making their customers aware of them after the fact.
At this stage, utilities knew they had to focus on solving customer problems which is why they planned to improve their customer service. Through this strategy, which is still commonly used, service providers use technologies to predict why each specific customer is calling and can quickly offer solutions. The biggest downfall with reactive customer service is that the customer is responsible for making the first contact with the utility company. Although this is an improvement to other types of customer engagement, customers can still sense dissatisfaction with their service provider and may be left wondering “why didn’t my utility know about this before?”.
These stages demonstrate that the industry understands the need to evolve their customer engagement and has rolled out several mechanisms to improve customer experience perception. However, there is a clear need for the development of more proactive strategies that leave frustration and dissatisfaction out of the equation and keep digital communications and channels in sight.
That is why at Open, we’ve dared to think outside the box and understand that the scope needs to be pushed out. Open International is a pioneer in digital proactive interactions, a new way utilities can interact and engage with their customers in a personalized manner and anticipate their needs before they even know they have them.
With this new and improved initiative, utilities have the power to implement innovative approaches to interact with their customers. Proactive interactions are types of digital communications sent to end customers with the objective of informing them of a situation or offer and giving them the best solutions or options available.
Open’s proactive interactions enable utilities to engage with their customers allowing them to anticipate their customers’ needs through artificial intelligence and data analytics. Situations are automatically detected by the system which triggers a digital contact to inform the customer about said events. The communication is guided through digital channels like SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or a self-service portal, along with a link that provides access to Smartflex’s AI chatbot solution that displays a list of actions for the customer to choose from according to their needs. Through a cutting-edge technology stack that includes a modern CIS, AI, Chatbots, and digital channels, utilities can transform their current customer care processes to fully online proactive interactions, ensuring a superior customer experience and lower operational costs.
At Open International, we believe in empowering utilities to better serve their community and understand the impact that a poor customer experience can have on any business. With every new innovation, we stay completely dedicated in leveraging our technology to help you delight your customers and take your business to the next level.