Omnichannel Customer Service for Utility Companies

March 05, 2020

Utility firms typically offer services that are taken for granted, and which normally remain invisible to customers. Until, that is, those customers receive an inaccurate bill, a notification with incorrect meter readings or information about price increases.

In such cases, they pick up the phone and expect providers to fix their problem as soon as possible. But what happens if a provider fails to meet customers’ expectations? The answer: they will most likely switch to a competitor in the hope of getting better customer experience. 

As competition gets fiercer than ever, with most regions now offering multiple utility supplier options, utility providers need to step up their game in order to stay ahead of the competitors. One trend utilities can benefit from is omnichannel customer service. Here’s why!

Utilities Customers Go Omnichannel

Today’s customers expect to be able to interact with their utility providers via multiple channels as well as have more control over how they are contacted. It seems utility customers have already gone omnichannel, and providers who have not implemented omnichannel technologies yet will definitely need to do as soon as possible.

So once you decided to implement an efficient omnichannel strategy, first you’ll need to understand your customers’ expectations across the variety of digital channels that omnichannel offers. And, instead of being present on every possible channel, you should focus on identifying channels that are preferred by customers.

For example, you might not think so but utility customers commonly use social media sites to take care of their utility activities. Due to this ever-increasing popularity of social media channels, utilities companies must learn how to utilize social media channels as well in order to provide a better digital customer experience.

You can, for instance, send out notification messages such as payment reminders through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and handle customer communication via your Facebook account. Again, a thorough assessment of which social media channels are most popular with your customers ought to be the first step in your strategy.

It’s All About Data

In a digital age, decision making has to be backed up by data. Recent technological advancements have transformed the way decision making is approached, and utility providers, who normally store a huge amount of data, cannot afford to miss out on taking advantage of this.

In particular, when it comes to customer service, customers are becoming more and more demanding. Recent research shows that utility customers, for example, tend to get frustrated when they have to repeat information they have already shared with their utility provider on a different channel.

This clearly shows that utility firms should focus on creating a data-driven omnichannel strategy by aligning and constantly analyzing data in order to be able to better pinpoint customers’ behavior and overall preferences.  

To benefit from omnichannel customer service, integrating your channels to be able to see all data on one platform is key, as he experience will only be valuable if it’s actually a good one.

Mobility Is Key

Mobility ranks high among the benefits of digital customer experience, with customers actively preferring to carry out even the smallest customer service activity using their mobile phones. And, as with many other industries, utility providers need to embrace this concept.

Omnichannel customer service is the ideal solution for utilities to provide customers with increased mobility, by enabling them to use their remote devices to take care of issues on their preferred channel.  

Smartphones and tablets, for example, are often used by customers to stay connected with a business while they are on the go. And utility providers who offer the convenience of resolving services such as billing issues remotely will definitely have a better chance of retaining their customers’ loyalty.

Another example of omnichannel customer experience utilities can benefit from is remote customer identification. This new innovation allows businesses to identify their customers via video chat instead of requiring them to visit a physical location only to wait in a queue to be identified.

With fierce competition commonplace in the utilities industry, excellent customer service can make or break your business. With this in mind, as a utilities provider you must go the extra mile to provide the level of support your customers expect – fast, efficient and via their preferred channel.

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