How utilities can boost their customer experience by leveraging AI

We’ve all experienced the frustration of being placed endlessly on hold when calling to resolve a customer service issue. We all know how annoying it can be to attempt to resolve a billing error via website forms and e-mails that feel like you’re simply ignored. What’s even worse, however, is being on the other side of these interactions knowing that your customers’ frustrations are growing, and issues remain unresolved.

In a modern-day customer service environment, personalized communication becomes more and more important.

It is all about communicating with your customers via the right channels in an automated and proactive way.

An omnichannel approach

The good news for utilities wanting to improve their customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, is that help is at hand. Leveraging AI to move towards an omnichannel centered customer experience allows you to process queries quicker and still be resource efficient.

The main philosophy behind this omnichannel approach is to get to know your customers better and to use that knowledge to meet them on their preferred channel. This could mean replacing contact forms with chatbots but also using alerts and attractive portals to proactively inform customers of issues or offer personalised tips.

When adopting an omnichannel approach, all communication channels (phone, SMS, online chat, and email) are connected and integrated to provide a seamless customer experience.

An important part of customer intimacy is knowing the sentiment of your customer. By automatically scoring the sentiment of all incoming communication we make sure our response is even more ‘personal’. E.g., if a customer with a positive contribution is unhappy, you want to direct them to a real person instead of endlessly trying to get this resolved via the chatbot or website forms.

This isn’t simply wishful thinking to be implemented at some indeterminate point in the future. Utilities that offer an integrated customer service experience increased customer satisfaction, faster response times and customer retention rates that are up to 90% higher compared to utilities using single channel services (Omnisend, 2020).

Zero Contact Customer intimacy

Pro-active communication

Boosting your customer experience also means that you need to communicate more effectively and proactively with customers. In the new world, you know all ins and outs of your customer. This allows you to provide communication or, if you are active in a competitive market, offerings that are perfectly tailored to their needs or consumption patterns, by making full use of captured data. It also enables you to provide live updates on interruptions or known work activity. While doing so, you can use the preferred communication channel of your customer, which is likely to create trust and appreciation, and therefore brand satisfaction.

Chatbots, the step-up to improve customer experience

The intelligent chatbot: perhaps the most important and visible AI technology you can adopt to improve your customer experience. An intelligent chatbot, powered by Microsoft Dynamics, can use historical data to learn patterns of interaction to predict customer needs even before they get in touch.

That use of data means that customers can get responses faster. Further, you can also redeploy CSRs to more stimulating and value-added work such as investigating more complex cases or interacting with your customers on social media. Promoting and protecting the brand voice and meeting your customers on their preferred platform will be part of the possibilities.

The data generated by the chatbot can also be used to guide customers on other channels. For example, using customer experiences to push notifications on the customer portal towards individual customer groups around infrastructure, consumption savings and more.

Zero Contact Chatbot

AI to transform customer service within utilities

These examples are just scratching the surface of the possibilities offered by AI to transform customer experiences within utilities, and to increase your NPS score.

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