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

Post

How Accessible is Your Utility’s Contact Information?

image credit: ID 130157516 © One Photo | Dreamstime.com
Andy Gotlieb's picture
Managing Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 33 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too.  The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

  • Member since 2016
  • 960 items added with 453,486 views
  • Jan 11, 2022
  • 176 views

As a journalist, one of my pet peeves with companies is that it’s often difficult to make contact.

Whether it’s by design (people who call or email tend to want something) or by inattention, it’s often hard to find someone to answer a question, solve a problem or address any of a myriad of other potential needs.

Don’t let this be your utility.

Consider your utility’s website landing page. Is it easy to find contact information?

How easily can customers find phone numbers for reporting outages, questioning their bills or speaking about energy programs such as old appliance buybacks or home energy audits?

Your access to Member Features is limited.

Aside from phone numbers, are email addresses readily available for those issues? And are there links to your social media, an increasingly popular way to make contact?

How will other kinds of site users fare?

How easily will reporters locate contact information for your PR team? Can shareholders find numbers for investor relations, if your utility is publicly traded?

If contacting your utility is akin to one of those infuriating clickbait slide shows found on the web, it’s a problem. You’ll be sure to anger reporters, customers, investors and anyone else trying to reach you.

Also note that it’s not difficult to fix.

It’s ideal to place pertinent contact information at the same spot on every website page: The top right corner is always a good option. Include the main phone number and an email link, as well as a link to a phone/email directory.

Use large type so people can see it. Anyone over the age of 40 who suddenly can’t see any more will thank you. Increase the size of your social media icons, too.

Don’t overlook other possible locations for contact information; include it on all correspondence you issue, billing inserts, emails and the bills themselves.

It should go without saying that if you publicize your contact options, someone needs to be there answering them. Immediate (or near-immediate responses) should occur during business hours and within a day or two on holidays and weekends. As always, emergency lines must always be monitored.

Phone trees may be an evil necessity, so keep them as simple as you can. And include the option to speak with a live representative as often as possible.

It should be noted that no matter how well you position your contact information, there’s a certain percentage of the population that due to laziness or stupidity will still have trouble contacting you. Sadly, there’s nothing you can do about that.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy 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
Discussions
Spell checking: Press the CTRL or COMMAND key then click on the underlined misspelled word.
Mark Wilkinson's picture
Mark Wilkinson on Jan 12, 2022

Great advice.  Utilities take a lot of flak for their websites appearing outdated or difficult to navigate, not all of it deserved.  But, we still find some sites that use images with phone numbers or emails that can't be clicked to launch a contact.  And, every utility should take a look at its digital assets from the customer's perspective and experience the potential difficulty customers may encounter when trying to get in touch with their utility.

 

We always recommend doing that user testing from a smartphone, which is swiftly becoming the device of choice for most customer's search and browsing tasks.  Make sure your telephone numbers or email addresses can easily be located and clicked by those devices.  Making everything easier to find on a modern intuitive website pays major dividends for your customer experience, so it's worth regularly checking as a user to keep your customer's perspective in mind.

 

 

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 »