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


Customer Service in a Pandemic: Technology is the Key to Convenient Communication

image credit: © Tero Vesalainen |
Amber Wesche's picture
Product Manager National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC)

Amber Wesche is a part of the Product Management group for National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), focusing on Customer Engagement solutions. Amber has been with NISC for nine years...

  • Member since 2019
  • 2 items added with 4,190 views
  • May 26, 2020

This item is part of the Utility Customer Care - Spring 2020 SPECIAL ISSUE, click here for more

As the world settles into our new reality, we’re facing many changes from both a personal and business perspective. The way we serve our customers looks a little different today and signs point to many of these changes becoming our new normal for the foreseeable future.

While how you’re serving your customers may look different, the end goal remains the same. Give those efforts a boost with technology-driven tools and apps to access account information and communication channels. In uncertain times, it’s critical that your communication tools are agile and intuitive, not only to meet the needs of an ever-changing market driven by technology-savvy customers, but also to empower your staff to provide outstanding customer service.

Your access to Member Features is limited.

Their Convenience…Your Efficiency

Making it easy for your customers to communicate with you is essential at any time. Now, though, as you and your customers make adjustments to a world where technology is playing an even larger role in how you communicate, making it simple will not only help your customers, but will keep your organization efficient.

Allowing customers to pay bills online and set up autopay helps reduce delinquents, increases on-time payments and eliminates paper and mailing costs. So, incorporating technology that can adapt to these features is important. In addition to increasing customer satisfaction, this enhanced customer experience also directly affects your customer service team. The reduction of calls into your organization will free up your customer service representatives’ time to focus on critical operational tasks. And placing the power to request new service electronically can streamline and simplify new business processes.

Empowering Through Engagement

Communicating effectively also means providing options on how, when and where they communicate with you. Many customers prefer doing business on their smart device, so providing options for bill payment and communication functionality in a mobile environment is becoming increasingly important. Mobile functionality can also create engagement opportunities with your customers, allowing them to select how they want to receive messages – a text, phone call, printed letter or a mobile push notification - as well as help share critical messages with all employees in your organization and ensue everyone is on the same page.

More than Mobile

Going mobile is great, but you know that not all of your customers receive messages on their devices. Many of them still enjoy coming into the office to pay a bill or ask a question to get some face-to-face time with your customer service associates. With those office interactions limited, it’s critical to understand the importance of continued engagement with those customers.

Many may prefer a phone call to the office, which is great, so relying on an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for customer service and taking payments is a solid option. An IVR system can allow you to take PCI-compliant payments over the phone or provide automated voice messages, while allowing your staff to complete other operational objectives.

While texting and push notifications are growing in importance, the email and printed statement are still important communication tools, especially for those customers that aren’t used to receiving updates on their mobile device. Customizable email notifications and printed letters can be generated and targeted to customers that may prefer these types of notifications.

Bringing it all Together

All of these communication methods are critical for reaching your customers. Providing your customers options on how to communicate with you and meeting those needs is essential, especially now as some of our methods of communication are on hold. Relying on technology is more important now than it ever has been, and providing the technology to communicate clearly, effectively and efficiently will go a long way to keeping your customers connected and customer satisfaction high.   

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 26, 2020

Going mobile is great, but you know that not all of your customers receive messages on their devices. 

Great points-- I'd also highlight how I don't want my mobile experience to just be a view into the online experience that happens to fit onto my phone's screen. Mobile and desktop have unique opportunities and should be optimized for what customers want and need while accessing at those two portals!

Amber Wesche's picture
Thank Amber for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »