This special interest group is where customer care professionals share tactics on how utilities are improving interactions with their customers. 

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Technology Picks Up Where Customer Empathy Wanes

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Nevelyn Black's picture
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Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

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The pandemic has spurred many problems.  Among them, the deteriorating quality of customer service.  It comes as no surprise, when consumers facing long wait times, increased prices, shortages and delays receiving goods are coupled with customer service reps risking their health to cover for sick co-workers and enduring verbal abuse from angry clients.  In a survey by The New York Times, readers said the quality of service that they experience has declined but they have personally developed more empathy for the overworked person on the other side of the phone.  Others have simply resigned to lowering their expectations to avoid further disappointment and frustration.  Is that what utility customers are taking away from their experience?  Last month, J.D. Power released results regarding utility customer satisfaction and how they ranked. 

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In this digital age, customers expect quick, helpful answers and consistent, personalized interactions.  Before the pandemic, 75 percent of consumers were already accustomed to receiving a response within 5 minutes.  Due to staff shortages and other delays, brought on by COVID-19, businesses are having trouble meeting those expectations.  Organizations that fail, risk losing trust in their brand, product and company.  However, those who adapt and adopt the following CX trends create constructive customer interactions.  

The top 5 predictions in customer care, according to Wendy Mikkelsen’s Forbes article, include:

  1. Digital contact centers will become the default contact center.
  2. Self-service will become more prevalent.
  3. Live agents will increasingly be augmented with AI.
  4. Customer service, sales, and marketing will become more unified.
  5. Stricter regulations will force businesses to focus on complaints management.

Based on those trends, it’s important to explore the technological capabilities of your organization and how you will manage complaints especially as regulations continue to shift. 

Important to note, businesses and utilities are not the only ones to acknowledge a downturn in customer service.  President Biden signed an Executive Order to improve the level of customer service provided by government agencies like Internal Revenue Service, Social Security, Passport services, the Department of Veterans Affairs and student aid.  

Keeping up with the expectations of the customer is an on-going challenge but if you know and understand their needs you’ll be better equipped to serve them.

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