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Utilities need to enhance customer service by turning off paper and offering innovative digital solutions

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Mia Papanicolaou's picture
Vice President: General Manager Striata, a Doxim company

Mia Papanicolaou heads up the North, Central and South American operations, providing strategy and direction for both internal teams and clients alike. Papanicolaou is a regular speaker on...

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  • Jan 25, 2019 4:15 am GMT
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This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-01 - Predictions & Trends, click here for more

Utility companies tend to only communicate with customers at billing time. According to J.D. Power’s 2017 Residential Electric Utility Customer Satisfaction Study, less than half (43%) of customers recall receiving communications from their utility.

While some utilities might provide limited services online through a portal, the sector is not as focused on improving customer service through digital processes as, for example, the retail/ecommerce sector. Many utilities are yet to implement and experience the benefits of digital customer communication.

But change is on the horizon...We believe utilities will begin shifting their focus to customer experience. Digital transformation is disrupting the utility sector, forcing more utilities to provide customers with options to interact with them digitally. This involves the distribution of personalized, interactive and relevant communication through the customer’s channel of choice, which they can access anywhere, anytime and via any internet enabled digital device.

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Consumers are demanding a seamless digital experience and specifically one that is:

  • Consistent: The customer experience is the same across all communication channels
  • Effortless:  It is easy to facilitate transactions regardless of channel used
  • Intuitive: It is easy to engage across all channels

To meet these consumer expectations and remain competitive in today's digital marketplace, utilities will have to introduce hyper-personalized customer communication, which will enhance customer engagement and ultimately, the customer experience. This will include the implementation of various innovative digital technologies, such as intuitive tools including AI and chatbots that will assist in enhancing the customer experience by enabling human-like interactions and providing self-service options.

The following trends are set to disrupt the utility sector in the next five years:

  • Instant everything: Fast, simple and effortless is what consumers want. It needs to be on their terms-anytime and anywhere
  • Hyper-relevant & Hyper-personalized: Meeting personal expectations is the new now. Consumers want personalized interactions and experiences that align with their lifestyle
  • Meaningful experiences: Purchases are now an expression of who the customer is and what they value. Intangible branding is now key, going far beyond product value
  • Collective consumption: New ways to share products and services without the burden of ownership are now welcome. It is about trust, community and collaboration
  • Digital technologies and processes will be introduced to improve customer service levels

Consumers want customized services and personalized communication from their utility providers and the implementation of innovative digital solutions is key to meeting this expectation.

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