Prioritizing the customer experience

The challenge

We’ve all experienced the frustration of being placed endlessly on hold when calling a help desk 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.

Customers expect high-quality service. In addition, Energy utilities must also meet regulatory requirements related to customer engagement and satisfaction. This requires a significant investment in technology, data analytics and customer service resources.

Balancing the costs of meeting these expectations and requirements while maintaining profitability is a big challenge.

Now more than ever, providing a safe and reliable service to energy customers needs to remain an absolute priority.

How can you prioritize the customer experience, in a highly competitive and regulated market, in order to gain a competitive advantage, increase revenue and reduce the cost to serve?

The solution

The good news is that UK utilities can prioritize the customer experiences that are essential to revenue growth with technology in several ways:

1. Next generation self-service portals

Traditionally, a customer self-service portal served as an online location where customers could find information about accounts, look at their bills and consumption, manage their contact information, submit requests, and make payments.

Although this was a great start, customers have grown to expect more from their utility provider and their customer self-service portals. Having experienced that initial sense of empowerment, customers now wish to manage their own payment plans and payment extensions, and more, without having to contact their utility provider and speak with a Customer Service Representatives (CSR).

By providing customers with access to their usage data and billing information through a secure, online portal, utility companies can allow customers more control over their account and improve transparency.

Itineris has taken the concept of self service to new heights. Our UMAX software solutions designed for utilities support move in, move out, and transfers for new and existing customers. For cost-aware customers, we have added analytical tools to compare rates with historical bills and to view, manage and graph consumption data.

2. Chatbots, the step-up to improve customer experience

Utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots can help utilities provide quick and efficient customer service, even outside of regular business hours.

The intelligent chatbot: perhaps the most important and visible AI technology you can adopt to improve your customer experience. An intelligent chatbot, like the one available in Itineris’ UMAX Customer Service, 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. Furthermore, 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

3. Taking an omnichannel and personalized approach

Zero Contact Customer intimacy

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 approach is to get to know your customers better and to leverage 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 personalized tips.

An important part of customer centricity is knowing the sentiment of your customer. By automatically scoring the sentiment of all incoming communication you can make sure your 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 trying to get this resolved via a chatbot or website form.

4. Improving 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 offerings that are perfectly tailored to their needs or consumption patterns, by making full use of the captured data.

It also enables you to provide clear, concise, and live updates about service disruptions, billing, and other important issues, which can reduce customer frustration and improve overall satisfaction. 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 and loyalty.

5. Leverage data to create a personalized experience

By analysing customer data, utilities can identify patterns and trends that can help them better understand customer needs and preferences. This can help you create a personalized experience for each customer, providing them with tailored products and services that meet their specific needs and preferences.

Transform your customer service

These examples are just scratching the surface of the possibilities to transform customer experiences within utilities, and to increase your NPS score. If you want to learn more, don’s hesitate to get in touch.

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