Data Consolidation is Key to Servicing Customers
- Feb 16, 2021 2:49 pm GMT
Nowadays, customers have high – and continually increasing – service demands. They expect their suppliers to know who they are, what they purchased, and even why they are contacting them. Most utilities are not able to meet such requirements because of the way their customer service systems are designed, so changes are needed.
Currently, many energy companies are unable to service their customers well because of limitations in their engagement channels. Businesses and consumers expect their vendors to recognize them at the start of the process. Through the years, utilities collected customer data in an ad hoc fashion. Consequently, the sales team has one record about the buyer’s interactions and the service team has another. Clients often feel frustrated when they have to provide business representatives with basic information, such as their name, address, and purchase history.
Present a Unified Front
Utilities need to consolidate these data sources and present a deeper, more united front when interacting with patrons. This process requires changes in several areas. Because this initiative drives across department boundaries, top management support is a must.
Once that is attained, utilities need to integrate customer interaction data across different interactions. Whether a client has a billing question or calls to report a problem, the energy company should recognize who they are.
To make that functionality possible, utilities need to clean up their data. They must pinpoint all of the places where customer information is stored; examine how customers are identified; and establish clear standards across the organization that make it easier for departments to collect, exchange, and examine client information in a standard way.
In addition, legacy silos create inconsistent messaging. Consequently, departments need to work together and ensure that customer messaging is consistent when they switch departments and channels, such as social networks, chatbots and contact centers.
Utilities must embrace change. The Covid pandemic dramatically altered how they interact with customers. Social distancing rules negated face-to-face exchanges in many cases. Given the unprecedented circumstances, utilities devised new ways to service customers. Digital virtual interactions replaced legacy approaches. These tools are built on modern technology, so theoretically, they are able to share information more easily than previous systems because they are more agile. While there has been progress, more integration work on this front is needed.
Moving forward, utilities must break down silos that arose through the years, in some cases, dating back more than a decade. They must consolidate information and present a unified, consistent interface to their clients. Given growing customer expectations, such an approach has become a prerequisite to servicing their patrons successfully.
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