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An Important Tool for the Utility CX Toolbox: Customer Journey Mapping

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Karen Marcus's picture
Freelance Researcher and Writer Final Draft Communications, LLC

In addition to serving as an Energy Central Community Manager, Karen Marcus has nearly 25 years of experience as a content developer within the energy and technology industries. She has worked...

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Like other types of companies, utilities have many avenues available to them for improving the customer experience (CX) they provide. Regularly engaging with customers, focusing on their CX program, and creating fun ways to participate in energy efficiency are some. Another useful way to improve CX is to explore customer journeys, which are the steps a customer must take to achieve certain goals.

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With customers becoming an increasingly important focus for utilities, the insights gained from customer journey mapping are critical for determining new offerings, programs, and technologies that will strengthen utility-customer relationships and cooperation.

What Are Customer Journeys?

Customer journeys consist of steps customers must go through to accomplish a particular task with a company. Customer journey “mapping” is the process of putting into writing or diagrams the exact steps customers must take. For example, utility customers may be faced with the following journeys:

  • Initiating service
  • Changing or discontinuing service
  • Interacting with customer service
  • Paying a bill
  • Providing feedback or ideas

Maps should include variations based on customer group for all scenarios. For example, how do millennials versus those of prior generations prefer to receive customer service? Chances are younger customers are more comfortable with newer technology, such as social media, texting, or chatbots, while older customers may prefer live interaction with a representative over the phone. Customers should be grouped into several “personas” to represent typical requirements that they bring to each journey.

Each customer journey map should be created based on actual data about past customers.

What To Do With a Customer Journey Map

A complete customer journey map should give utility personnel an understanding of all possible touchpoints customers will likely have with the utility during their time as customers. With this understanding, utility professionals can begin to explore how customers experience those interactions.

For example, while — as noted above — millennials might prefer to use texting over a voice call, how convenient is the texting platform? Does it help those customers feel more comfortable because they like the technology, or less so because it doesn’t work well? Similarly, how easy or difficult is it for an elderly customer to operate smart home equipment provided by the utility? Can they get help when they need it?

How to Create a Customer Journey Map

The customer journey mapping process is complex, but here are some of the basic steps:

  1. Choose one goal a customer may have, such as signing up for new service, getting help when something goes wrong, or paying a bill.
  2. Describe the various ways in which the customer may have contact with the utility, such as via phone, on the website, through text, etc. Be sure to account for multiple contacts if needed.
  3. Describe what the customer experiences at each of those touchpoints. For example, does the website have a welcome screen? A form to fill out? An FAQ?
  4. Look for points where customers may get stuck or prefer a different option. For example, during the sign-up process, does the utility offer smart home options? Could that offer become a separate interaction after the customer has signed up instead?  
  5. If needed, ask real customers to give feedback on each process.
  6. Make needed adjustments in processes or planning.

The entirety of CX is made up of each interaction the customer has with a company, and they’re comparing how their experience with the utility compares with that of the retail establishments and other service providers they do business with. Remember that just one bad experience can mar the impression a customer has with a business. The best way to prevent that from happening is to use a customer journey map to discover where in the process something might go wrong.

Has your utility completed a customer journey map? How did it help you improve your CX? Please share in the comments.

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