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2023 CX Trends

Mark Wilkinson's picture
SVP Products, Ibex Digital

Helping utilities and their customer experience teams transform customer journeys,  decode customer insights  and enhance revenues for nearly 15 years.  At Ibex, I lead the teams delivering...

  • Member since 2019
  • 128 items added with 19,474 views
  • Feb 15, 2023

This item is part of the 2023 Predictions and Anticipated Trends for the Power Industry - January/February, click here for more

Here are 3 critical CX trends for utilities that we think will shape the year ahead.   

1.Customer Service and Billing Call Increases 

In addition to internal data at virtually every utility, US macro data points to rising household debt and increased payment delinquencies. A recent report from TransUnion forecasts serious credit card delinquencies to rise 50 basis points by the end of 2023, on top of increases in other key household spending categories like auto loans and unsecured personal loans. Add the toxic mix of rising interest rates and persistent inflation along with potentially hefty energy bills due to extreme winter weather and utilities can expect billing and collections related calls to surge in the new year.  Delinquencies may remain elevated for much of the year, especially if interest rates remain high and unemployment pops due to a recession. 

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In order to be prepared and provide the most value to customers during these times, utilities should prepare now by polling customer service teams to ensure low attrition, increasing recruitment to be ready to add team members, and doubling down on training for soft skills to manage those sensitive billing and collections related calls. 
2. Social Media Wave 

Social media continues to drive the relevant digital stats for our customers, just look at these figures  Facebook’s user growth in 2022 came from users 55 and older, so we can’t just say it’s for the next generation of our customers.  Typical users spend as much as 2.5 hours per day on social media.  Additionally, HootSuite reported that 64% of people would rather message than call a business.  

Those stats tell us that social media have become critical channels for customer care and customer service this year, and McKinsey seems to agree. Social Customer Service operates with more efficiency, lower costs, and often higher CSAT for your customers, so it’s a great time for utilities to launch a pilot, especially if we expect a surge in CS calls.  But, don’t be in a rush to use Twitter.  It’s likely to have a very rough year itself in 2023, so we recommend sticking to mainstream social media channels like Facebook for a pilot.  

In order to prepare, be sure to remain active on your chosen channels, respond to customer comments, complaints, and questions  within a day, and consider utilizing a social media reputation management tool  to monitor your progress.  You may want a small dedicated team to pilot the program because social media isn’t quite the same at voice or chat based customer service.  Be sure to communicate with customers that you are now utilizing these new channels so that they understand all the ways they are able to connect with your brand. 

3. Is 2023 the Year to Try Near-Shoring?  

As all US industries face increased cost of capital, upward pressure on wages, and ongoing need to trim budgets, Customer Service teams should look closely at their KPI trends.  If attrition rates are high and recruitment has been a challenge in 2022, it may be time to examine near shore options to augment customer service. Utilities, like the healthcare and financial services industries, have generally hesitated to move offshore with their customer service calls out of concerns about data security, quality of service, and other lingering challenges.  

However, many nearshore communities have made serious investments in technology, training, and human capital infrastructure that has resulted in superior service levels to US operations at much more affordable rates.   

Many operators in healthcare and financial services have already shifted operations to include nearshore customer care and administrative support programs to balance their budgets while they improve attrition and support performance.  Perhaps utilities should consider a pilot in 2023 to test their own performance. 


With volatile conditions ahead and many customers facing economic challenges in the new year, utilities need every competitive advantage they can develop in order to provide the best possible customer experiences, especially during sensitive milestones in the customer journey when these interactions can have the most impact.  

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Mar 1, 2023

Mark, this is a great post about the upcoming and anticipated trends as it relates to Customer operations for utilities.  I am curious if you know what the current percentage, across the US, is for unpaid utility bills.  I thought I read somewhere it was really high, but I cannot remember the specifics.  I know during the height of the pandemic, many bills were either forgiven or allowed to be paid later - is there still a lot of carry over from this?  

Mark Wilkinson's picture
Thank Mark for the Post!
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