- May 27, 2020 5:10 pm GMT
This item is part of the Special Issue - 2020-05 - Customer Care, click here for more
The immediate effects of COVID-19 on customer care are now relatively well understood. Utilities have enacted moratoriums on payment related disconnects. Residential load has increased. C&I load has decreased. Record unemployment has increased uncollectibles. Overall sales are down. Costs are up.
Customers are uneasy and utilities are in a difficult situation. However, every crisis creates opportunity. And the coronavirus crisis is a golden opportunity for utilities to gain a bump in customer satisfaction scores – the ever-important metric that correlates with higher ROE for utilities.
Bellomy.com reports that 60% of consumers who are aware of positive actions taken by their utility related to COVID-19 have a more positive overall opinion of their utility. This leads to an easy formula to create a bump in customer satisfaction ratings. First, do something good for the customer and second, advertise that you did it. During this time of crisis, doing so will have a magnified effect on customer satisfaction. Here’s a list of customer care opportunities to gain a customer satisfaction bump during and after COVID-19.
Acts of Kindness Provoke Interest
Imagine this scenario…you log into your Utility’s website, a pop-up displays “We have analyzed your usage and bill and have recommendations to save you 15% on your future electric bills”. The suggestions could be one or more of several options the utility has analyzed using the customer’s specific usage history, including a connected thermostat or water heater, switching rate plans or participating in community solar. The best part is that it is proactive and personalized savings offer – an act of kindness.
Help Quell Financial Fears
Three in five consumers report some level of concern about rising energy costs. Similar to how banks and credit card companies provide anytime access to customer balances, utilities can provide consumers with anytime access to their bill-to-date balances. By providing the cost of electricity since their last bill customers can track their spending and better plan their monthly bills. In addition, a bill forecast projects how much the customer’s bill will be at the end of the monthly billing cycle. Daily Bill-to-Date and Bill Forecast can provide important information to 30 Million Americans that have recently filed for unemployment benefits.
“Brands that take proactive steps to comfort customers and protect their safety and financial confidence will earn a strong reputation, which will benefit in the long run.” – Forbes.com
Optimize the Relationship
COVID-19 materially impacted both residential and C&I load profiles, meaning many customers may no longer be on the optimal rate plan. For utilities that offer customers multiple residential and C&I rate plans, Whole Population Rate Analysis (WPRA) identifies the best rate for each customer.
Let Your Customers Know What’s Next
With COVID-19 increasing utility costs and decreasing revenue, a majority of state regulators have responded approving regulations allowing utilities to recover COVID-19 related costs and lost revenue. New rates are on the horizon and many customers are on tighter budgets. WPRA can calculate every single customer’s bill on multiple rate plans providing a bill impact for each and every customer – based on their historic usage. Personalized rate transition bill impacts for every customer can be a huge customer satisfaction win for utilities. These types of analyses are critical for C&I customers.
“As millions are furloughed and retreat into isolation, a primary barometer of their customer experience will be how the businesses they frequent and depend upon deliver experiences and service that meets their new needs with empathy, care and concern.” – Mckinsey.com
Using these strategies, Utilities can excel in customer care resulting in higher customer satisfaction during and after COVID-19.
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