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


"There's a Democratization of Complaining"

image credit: Photo 266961375 / Customer Reviews © Pakin Jarerndee |
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...

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  • Mar 8, 2023

Customers now have a voice and a vehicle to share their complaints.  "Most people now are using a computer, they're using some form of social media at this point, there's a democratization of complaining," said Scott Broetzmann, president and chief executive of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting.

“Listen to the customer” has always been key for good customer service but responding with products, services and solutions that meet the needs of a customer guarantees satisfaction.  Unfortunately, the customer service industry has taken more than a few hits since the beginning of the pandemic.  According to Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI, a lack of tools to accurately measure customer satisfaction and high employee turnover are to blame for declining customer satisfaction.  "It is difficult to generate high customer satisfaction under these circumstances," said Fornell and Distinguished Professor Donald C. Cook (emeritus) of Business Administration at the University of Michigan.  “Inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the deterioration but were not factors in the beginning of the decline. Business spending to improve the customer experience increased and companies had more data on their customers than ever before. However, too few companies use analytics suitable for customer satisfaction data. Standard statistical methods are not up to the task and artificial intelligence methods don’t yield the cause-and-effect information necessary for resource allocation.”

As customers chime in, companies need to keep up with posted complaints, responses, what to post, when to post and what to change. This is can be very difficult for staff.  Many are turning to AI to bridge the gap and to take full advantage of customer data.  By computing all the data, companies can be more effective and manage touchpoints.

Last year, J.D. Power noted, more than half of U.S. businesses were aware of electric utility rate increases and this led an overall decline in customer satisfaction.   "Businesses are facing a tough economic environment right now as they confront the effects of inflation, talent scarcity and continued supply chain challenges," said Adrian Chung, director of utilities intelligence at J.D. Power.

How is your CX team handling these ‘tough’ times?  Despite challenges, several utility companies were honored with Best Practices Awards from The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC).  Evergy, in partnership with Uplight, was honored with the Consumer Engagement Award for its online Marketplace sub-platform, called the Offer Center.  Consumers Energy and TVA joined Austin Energy and ComEd as multiple-time recipients of Best Practices Awards.

Have digital tools and artificial intelligence armed your team with the tools they’ll need to provide the best customer experience?



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