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Utility customers expect a seamless experience across all digital communication channels

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Customer experience is no doubt a key focus for any utility organization undergoing digital transformation.  And as the customer experience changes, a vital component of this transformation should include the conversion of all customer communication to digital.

As an example, a utility shouldn’t send out its bills digitally, yet persist with paper-based collections notices.  Furthermore, there also needs to be consistency in the tone and style of messages sent out, regardless of the nature of the communication or from which department it originates.  

Here are eight steps utilities should take to ensure a seamless digital communication journey:

1. Understand the digital customer and the channels available

Today’s digitally-savvy customers expect their service providers to communicate with them via the channels they prefer. Understanding a customer’s digital preferences and preferred channel of communication for a particular message or task, is a vital part of improving the customer experience.

2. Send the right message at the right time, to the right customer

The message a customer receives has to be relevant and timed effectively to create a moment that matters. Understanding the urgency of the communication vs how content rich the message needs to be, will help determine which channel is most appropriate.  For example, a storm outage is best sent by text message, whereas the monthly bill is more suited to email, since it carries so much more information.

3. Monitor customer behavior and engagement

One of the best things about digital communication is the rich data it generates. But that data is only useful if it can be analyzed correctly. To really maximize on the reporting analytics from digital communication, the utility must understand how and when customers engage and use this information to improve future communications.

4. Link customer engagement information to profile data

Combining customer engagement data with individual customer profile data provides insight into what kind of messaging each customer should receive to be as effective as possible.

5. Apply hyper-personalization

When it comes to bridging the relationship gap, speaking to customers as individuals is imperative and data is the foundation of achieving 1-to-1 communication. For utilities, targeted and personalized messaging is especially critical. Not only are critical service messages important for consumers, but personalized messaging about usage and the impact certain tasks have on that usage are also valuable. This can foster a sense that their utility knows who they are, improving their overall perception of the organization.

6. Look at the customer digital journey and communicate effectively throughout

Understanding the customer journey and mapping out communications against that journey is proving to be all the more vital for utilities. Providing a seamless welcome as they move into a new home, with triggers to help them along the way, namely: how to interact, when to expect their bill and helping them understand their bill, are simple yet effective ways to ensure a customer feels like they have the information they need, when they need it.

7. Audit communications annually, at the very least

Setting up automated communications is key to sending messages at the right time to customers. Utilities should however audit these operational communications regularly to ensure the content is still relevant and that each message remains a vital cog in the digital journey. Without regular audits, you could find that irrelevant messages set up many years prior, are confusing to customers. This could cause a digital fracture in an otherwise well thought-out digital strategy.

8. Make constant improvements to communications sent

Ways to improve communications should always be a consideration. As technology evolves, so too does the way we interact and communicate. Messages should be enhanced in a way that will not only increase customer engagement, but also the all-important customer experience.

 

Recognizing the wider context

Ultimately, utilities need to be aware that customers already have this kind of seamless experience with dozens of service providers they interact with on a daily basis. They’ve come to expect it. While utilities are unlikely to lose customers in the short-term because they don’t cater to these expectations, they have much to gain -- in terms of better relationships with their customers and improving perceptions among customers of the value they provide.

Mia Papanicolaou's picture

Thank Mia for the Post!

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