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 a healthier grid overall. In parallel, utilities are beginning to take advantage of the massive amount of data collected through advanced metering infrastructure to proactively provide in-depth information to consumers.
These trends have converged in consumer engagement (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.
5 Ways Utilities Benefit from CE
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.
A comprehensive strategy to deploy CE provides utilities with the following 5 benefits that allow them to serve customers better.
1: Justify smart grid projects
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. Utilities can get the most out of smart-grid technology with an integral CE strategy.
2: Meet customer expectations
Customer expectations when it comes to levels of service offered through their utilities are 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. CE can improve the customer experience.
3: Personalize consumer experiences
Consumers expect a much higher degree of personalization in communications with utilities, starting with targeted messaging. New technologies such as disaggregation provide the targeted information customers need.
4: Improve customer self-service
Providing ways that customers can easily answer questions online not only increases customer satisfaction but reduces the utility’s cost to serve. An intuitive user experience guides customers to a better understanding of their bills and costs and also enables CSRs to answer customer inquiries quickly and effectively.
5: Benefits of omnichannel engagement
Consistency across online, mailed, emailed, and mobile channels are paramount to providing a coherent message to your customers, adding to utility credibility and consumer trust. Messaging across channels simplifies and improves the customer experience.
Both customers and CSRs benefit from the 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. And customers are equipped with the tools to self-serve, which ultimately reduces the volume of calls to call centers and decreases costs.