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Top 5 Tips for Enhancing Utility Voice of the Customer Programs.

Mark Wilkinson's picture
SVP Products, Ibex Digital

Helping utilities and their customer experience teams transform customer journeys,  decode customer insights  and enhance revenues for nearly 15 years.  At Ibex, I lead the teams delivering...

  • Member since 2019
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  • Jun 9, 2022

CS Week 2022 included some great presentations and terrific conversations among attendees on the topic of Voice of the Customer and CX programs.  Here's a quick Top 5 list of tips for utilities to max out the value of their VoC program.

#1. Add Some Surveys

As helpful as the annual NPS style survey may be, Utilities benefit from adding a couple of short focused surveys to collect customer feedback on specific experiences.  Maybe it's a survey just about the online energy start or a call to the customer service team, but sending those triggered surveys about a key experience usually gets a great response rate and delivers very meaningful feedback.

#2. Close the Loop

If you do deliver a survey following a key customer experience, be sure to check the results and flag low scores or challenging feedback for escalation to the responsible teams.  Customers respond to surveys and expect companies to listen, so utilities that reach out to customers who report a challenging experience will demonstrate their commitment to customer centricity.  Closing the loop on informal escalations pays CSAT dividends even if you don't solve the customers problems because you show them that the utility hears their feedback.

#3.  Not Too Short or Too Long, and Just the Right Questions

NPS style surveys asking only the same generic question as other brands may cause customers to overlook your invitation.  Surveys that take twenty minutes and require a desktop computer cause customers to abandon in the middle.  And surveys that ask just a few questions but about two or three different customer experiences confuse customers and make a mess of the data.

Send short focused surveys on a single topic, preferably via text message, delivered as close to the actual customer experience being investigated in order to maximize both the response rate and the quality of the feedback.  Email invites work too, but if you can't monitor customers who start but never finish their surveys, your VoC tool needs an upgrade.  

#4.  Set Expectations Up Front

Have you ever tried to complete that survey from your favorite fast food spot just to get the free entree coupon?  What starts out as a quick survey on your smartphone turns out to be a twenty question inspection of your ten minute "meal on the go."  Most customers justifiably abandon those surveys, which is probably what the brand wants in the first place.   Some companies just don't want to hear the feedback, and their survey structure proves it.

But some CX events justify a longer or more involved survey, especially with a complicated topic or a new program that needs more involved customer feedback.  Customers are happy to invest time to give feedback as long as they are prepared for the experience.  Inviting customers to a survey with a clear message that they will spend about seven minutes answering eight important questions and everything can be done on a smartphone sets up your survey for optimal response rates and results.

#5 Listen in New Channels

Customers have a lot of new places to express themselves, so ignoring social media posts can make your utility appear tone deaf to customer feedback, especially to the upcoming generations.  We recommend at least monitoring social media channels including Yelp, Google Reviews, and your own Facebook and Instagram accounts in your Voice of the Customer program.  Just resist the urge to respond right away.  Every social channel has its own rules very much indifferent to traditional norms, so it's a good idea to listen for a few weeks and map the norms of each channel before trying to engage.  Don't jump into the deep end of the social media pool too early, but it's a great place to collect and learn from the unfiltered feedback of your customers.


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 9, 2022

On the surveys-- I always wonder whether there's a self-selection bias. Are you more likely to only get people to participate in the surveys if they have complaints or other things negative to say? Or do you find that people are just as eager to share their positive (or even neutral) experiences? 

Mark Wilkinson's picture
Mark Wilkinson on Jun 10, 2022

Great point, and of course the answer is "yes," those surveys will attract complaints or issues.  I would say that's exactly the point of milestone surveys across the customer journey.  Gathering and analyzing those insights helps utilities understand where their customers experience friction in the CX, so that data, even if it's a complaint, provides useful data for utilities to make adjustments.

But, it usually surprises everyone that customers take time to give their feedback in general and about positive experiences as well.  If surveys arrive in a simple to digest manner close to the event that's being evaluated, customers will often provide feedback if they like the brand or company sending the survey.   A great Voice of the Customer program has to capture all of those different expressions from their customers to improve overall CSAT, which is the ultimate currency related to customer engagement and loyalty.

Mark Wilkinson's picture
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