What does Omni-Channel mean for Utilities? Hint - it's not always about digital transformation.
- Aug 26, 2020 3:00 pm GMT
We hear a lot of confusion from our utility clients and partners about the need to be "omni-channel" in their customer outreach. Despite plentiful and costly advice from consultants, few partners have confidence delivering on those omni-channel goals.
So, we begin with an omni-channel end in mind, but informed more progressively by starting small and expanding relentlessly. Getting to an omni-channel approach to digital communication and engagement should NOT require that utilities fully transform their digital experience, and it doesn't necessarily mean going to bid on CRM, CMS and MAS technology. Utilities that already have those tools may have a step ahead in getting to their omni-channel goals, but most of us know that technology just as easily becomes a bottleneck instead of an enabler for digital outreach programs. Avoid the obstacles entirely by starting new and small and focus on a basic plan.
The end goal of any communication plan should always be to ensure customers can easily find what they need, when they need it, however they choose to connect with your operations. Customers just want to connect conveniently in their "channel of choice," which just means that utilities have to provide useful information in the channels were customers most often engage. Ultimately, that's all that omni-channel was ever intended to mean, but the simple explanation isn't as cool as a new buzz phrase for marketing types.
We advocate a simple approach, beginning with an assessment of how your customers already interact with your operations. Identify the key channels for customer outreach: direct mail, bill inserts, email, customer service, and the website usually covers 90%+ of typical customer connections. Examine the best performing programs, most clickable emails, most shared social posts, and most common calls or clicks from the website. These breadcrumbs help you to know the most likely "channels of choice" for your customers.
Once you establish that communication journey map, being omni-channel just means that as you incorporate new messages, alerts or special offers to your customer outreach, support the message in those channels: online, in the call center, on apps, and in print. We always ask ourselves, could a customer reading this email click on a link to get to information about the topic on our website? If they call customer service, will the CSR team have the information available to answer customer questions on the topic? If not, correcting those gaps makes the new message omni-channel!
Don't buy the hype about getting omni-channel. Our experience suggests that utilities already have all the tools needed to begin incorporating customer outreach across their communication channels. Don't get caught up in massive projects that implode under their own gravity. Start small, expand relentlessly, and your customers will appreciate your efforts. Just ask them. We're sure they will tell you what they think.
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.