Historically, utilities equated exemplary customer experiences with delivering a safe and reliable service (electricity, gas, water). Yet as the industry evolves towards sustainable energy, so too has the service model.
Interactions were typically conducted via written communication, phone, or in person. Customer feedback was difficult to collect, often occurring during a negative interaction (billing complaints, outage reports, etc.) which skewed the results.
Fast-forward to the present, and there’s a new service model in town. Spurred on by the digital evolution during the pandemic, how we engage with our customers has forever changed.
Today, customers want to interact directly with their utilities using all the modern, real-time ways of engaging, participating in two-way transactions such as buying and selling power on the grid, managing individual carbon footprints and energy bills, and contracting for home services from the utility (buy, lease, service solar panels, heat pumps, etc.).
In this blog post, we examine customer experience management (CEM) and how it helps utilities elevate feedback and listening throughout the customer journey. Essential insights at a time when the industry is undergoing unprecedented change.
When no news is bad news
Quiet customer feedback channels don’t necessarily reflect a satisfied customer. Just because the phones aren’t ringing, doesn’t mean that all is well. In fact, a lack of engagement presents significant consequences for the utility. Without input from end users, the operation is deprived of rich intelligence that helps fuel business growth. Some examples include:
- Feedback on products to inform new features, pricing, and additional offerings
- Enhanced public perception and proof of good faith efforts on the part of the utility, supporting requests for rate increases and other initiatives from regulators
- Identifying wins and sharing positive outcomes to motivate utility workers and increase job retention
With an interactive (versus passive) service model, we can resolve customer issues quickly, converting negative perceptions to positive outcomes.
Nurturing meaningful interactions
Utilities recognize the value a customer-centric service model delivers to their bottom line. Happy users attract new customers via referrals and high-scoring online reviews, a business-critical result as utilities shift to provide new consumer-led services. To achieve these outcomes, utilities are expanding support models to incorporate choice and customization in their services.
Today we see utilities initiating large-scale digital transformations, expanding beyond phone and email to include social media, mobile apps, and interactive websites supported by omnichannel communication platforms.
While these modern channels provide additional points of input, little effort is spent optimizing the experience for the customer. Feedback is collected using traditional methodology which often leads to survey fatigue. As a result, engagement is sub-par, producing insufficient data that is superficial and difficult to interpret.
Customer-centricity as a strategic advantage
CEM offsets these deficits, using design-driven feedback, a blend of technology and behavioral science, to create interactions that emulate how people naturally share and respond to feedback.
The results are exceptional, with customer response rates increasing by up to 600%, providing the utility with rich, actionable insights and meaningful data that help drive product improvement, service design, and overall operational efficiencies.
These strategic advantages are significant, allowing business leaders to actively plan for the future. The insights collected help the utility prepare for the undeniable changes that lie ahead, including climate change impacts, a new energy grid, ever-aging infrastructure, as well as innovative ways to fund all of this.
CEM helps inform the big decisions these businesses face. Guided by insights from customers, utilities will deliver transformation programs that meet and exceed their customers’ needs.
The future of service for utilities
A customer-centric service strategy is essential to the future success of the utility. For example, the shift to renewable energy sources will require the operation expand from a single deliverable to a range of services.
Utilities will face new challengers in the market, placing competitive pressures on the business where there was previously no competition at all. Unhappy customers will have options, switching to alternative providers if the utility doesn’t get it right. Employee retention is also impacted by competitors actively soliciting top talent.
With CEM, utilities gain the insights and intelligence needed to ensure the operation remains resilient and agile. By genuinely listening to customers, soliciting their feedback, and involving them in the planning, the utility pre-emptively prepares for changes in the market.
Successful organizations are already leveraging CEM to engage with customers for input on new services, for example, soliciting feedback for proposed EV charging stations. Along with building a better understanding of how customers intend to use these services, they are also active participants in the process. An invested customer is a loyal customer, and everyone wins.
IFS works closely with utilities worldwide, helping them optimize customer engagement and soliciting for valuable input to quantify current and future services. With IFS Customerville, our clients gain a better understanding of the Moment of Service, driving change, innovation, and efficiencies that easily meet (and often exceed) their customers’ expectations.
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IFS develops and delivers enterprise software for companies around the world who manufacture and distribute goods, build and maintain assets, and manage service-focused operations. Within our single platform, our industry specific products are innately connected to a single data model and use embedded digital innovation so that our customers can be their best when it really matters to their customers—at the Moment of Service™.
The industry expertise of our people and of our growing ecosystem, together with a commitment to deliver value at every single step, has made IFS a recognized leader and the most recommended supplier in our sector. Our team of 4,500 employees every day live our values of agility, trustworthiness and collaboration in how we support our 10,000+ customers.
Learn more about how our enterprise software solutions can help your business today at ifs.com.
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