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


Improving Customer Care with Technique or Technology?

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Nevelyn Black's picture
Writer, Independent

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...

  • Member since 2017
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  • Dec 16, 2021

White Castle is using a bot to flip their famous burgers and fries, while Mcdonald’s is looking into a an AI-powered voice system for its drive thru’s.  Robots are trending and replacing humans in the customer service experience.  In fact, for the first nine months of 2021, North American companies ordered a record 29,000 robots, to perform front-line tasks originally completed by humans. Why the sudden switch?   Simply put, like it or not, COVID has changed customer service forever.  Are your goals and procedures changing for better outcomes?  Forgive the stats but here’s a few findings from recent surveys and suggested solutions from experts.    In a survey by NBC and Telemundo last year, almost 55 precent of customers using a call center did not get their concerns resolved. 63 percent said they would welcome callback technology over waiting on hold.  57 percent of executives have invested in advanced data and analytics tools and another 21 percent have invested into AI and ML.  Since then, the numbers have continued to rise with demand for products, services and the teams to support them.  The team at Tethr (an AI and machine learning venture) recently completed a study of roughly 1 million customer-service calls involving more than 20 companies representing a broad cross-section of industries.  The study revealed areas in need of improvement. 

To meet the needs of the modern customer, companies must upgrade their policies to match the values of the re-imagined customer.  Online services have created a customer-base largely made up of people who now expect instant gratification.  Aim to meet those expectations.  Customers want and deserve empathy.  Empower your reps to make exceptions to rules that would normally leave reps feeling powerless and customers feeling frustrated.  Instead of redirecting difficult calls help customers feel you’re on their side.  Empathy and the use of advocacy language like “Let’s see if we can figure this out together” can make all the difference. In prior research, advocacy language reduced customer effort by as much as 77 percent.  Another opportunity that utilities would not want to miss is letting the public know about conservation and clean air initiatives.  91 percent of consumers expect companies to be socially and environmentally responsible.  Important to note, methods that worked in the past are now inappropriate.  Timing is everything.  When customers are dealing about the inability to pay their bill, replace marketing messages with messages of support and understanding.  “The focus has to be on building relationships,” Hiver CEO Niraj Ranjan told MarTechSeries.  As a result of the pandemic, the level of customer emotion and anxiety during service calls has heightened.   The interaction between you and your utility customer should be free of anxiety. 

Customer service trends for next year will compel companies to make changes, be it technology or technique.  What have you seen industrywide that is improving your customer’s experience?



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