Two recent trends have significantly improved consumers’ experiences with utilities. Advancements in the smart grid have increased grid reliability, offered quicker restoration/service times, and provided an overall a healthier grid. In parallel, utilities are beginning to take advantage of the massive amount of data collected by advanced metering infrastructure to proactively provide in-depth information to consumers.
These trends have converged in consumer engagements (CE) solutions, which help utilities redefine their interactions with customers. CE programs take advantage of web, mobile, and print-based technologies to make what was previously back-office information used only by utilities available to the end consumer.
Fundamentally, utilities use consumer engagement to offer people transparency into their consumption and billing information as well as provide the education and the means to control costs. These solutions can come in many forms, and utilities have digital and print options to choose from when approaching the new customer journey.
In fact, modern utilities follow an omnichannel strategy for consumer engagement. This means it’s not enough for utilities to offer information on the web, mobile and mobile-responsive, SMS or traditional print. What counts is optimizing across all channels for a seamless, consistent experience for consumers. The exact combination of consumer engagement solutions varies according to each utility’s objectives and goals.
Benefits for Customer Service
Further, these technological advancements present utilities with the opportunity to improve internal processes. Not only do customers benefit from having their information at their finger-tips, but so do customer support representatives (CSRs), who are an integral component of a comprehensive CE solution.
With the right tools provided by a CE solution, CSRs are better equipped to answer customer questions, reducing the time it takes to resolve inquiries over the phone and increasing customer satisfaction as a result. Plus, part of the intention of a CE solution is to equip customers with the tools to self-serve, which ultimately reduces the volume of calls to call centers and decreases costs.
The benefits to utilities and their customers provided by a comprehensive consumer engagement solution are multi-faceted, and cannot truly be represented in a single blog post. Therefore, this post serves as an introduction to a 5-part blog series focused on the benefits of consumer engagement. Future blogs will cover:
1: How consumer engagement can Sell Your Smart Grid Project – CE is key to smart grid success and plays an important role in driving smart grid projects by increasing the value of these projects and savings that can be passed back to the consumer. We’ll examine how you can get the most out of smart-grid technology with an integral CE strategy.
2: Exploring the shifts in customer expectations – Customer expectations when it comes to levels of service offered through their utilities is changing, and utilities – whether big or small – are being held to the same standards as industries such as banking and telecom when it comes to customer communications. We’ll investigate specific ways CE can improve the customer experience.
3: Personalized experiences – Consumers expect a much higher degree of personalization in communications with utilities, starting with targeted messaging. We’ll look at how new technologies such as disaggregation can provide the targeted information customers need, when they need it.
4: Customer service and self-service – Providing ways that customers can easily answer questions online not only increases customer satisfaction but reduces the utility’s cost to serve. We’ll review the benefits of an intuitive user experience that guides customers to understand their bills/costs, and also look at the benefits of having a user-intuitive interface that enables CSRs to answer customer inquiries quickly and effectively.
5: Benefits of omnichannel engagement – Cross-channel consistency in messaging across online, mailed, email, and mobile is paramount to providing a coherent message to your customers, adding to utility credibility and consumer trust. Find out how integral messaging across channels simplifies and improves the customer experience.
We’re looking forward to having you join us on this journey, as we explore how a modern CE strategy can make a big difference to your customers and to your bottom line. If you’d like more information today, please contact us to schedule your free consultation of the Aclara ACE® solution.