For many people, their utility companies are an inconvenience: they only come into contact with them when they need to pay a bill or respond to an unexpected outage or come home to a flooded basement. But in today’s world, where consumers expect a personalized, human touch from the people they purchase their goods and services from, utility companies can no longer afford to ignore their customers’ needs. It’s no longer commonplace to wait until your consumers are in crisis to engage with them. By proactively reaching out to customers and offering them solutions and advice to help them reduce their energy bills, improve their communication, and receive their bills, utility companies can improve their brand image, reduce churn, and win over new customers.
Today’s customers have more options than ever before. They can choose from providers that offer better service at lower costs or remain with their current utility provider in exchange for the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’ll keep their lights on. Tilli has continued to help our customers build a loyal customer base by providing reliable, preference-based services.
Being able to interact with your customers is a crucial part of providing good service. However, it can be difficult to get a dialogue going sometimes. The good news is that there are a number of ways you can improve customer engagement with your utility company, and it all comes down to being proactive. By keeping a close eye on social media, responding to customers in a timely manner, and keeping the lines of communication open, you can build a pretty great reputation.
If you want to take it one step further, though, there are three more things you can do to keep customers happy, engaged, and advocating for you.
Easier Payment Processing Options
One of the best things you can do to keep customers happy is to make it easier for them to pay their bills. Today, many utility companies offer customers the option to pay their bill online or which not only saves time but also cuts down on the costs of processing paper checks and postage. This makes it easier for customers to pay their bill on time and avoid surprise fees. Some of our customers are using text message payment options, which allow customers to pay their bill with a few taps on their phone.
The point is, people want options and ease of use. If you can make things frictionless and painless for the customer, you’re ahead of the game.
Preference-Based Communication Methods
When a customer has an issue with your product, how do you respond? In the past, this might have been a tricky question. When customer service was primarily handled via phone call or physical mail, it was harder to track interactions and ensure that customers received the same level of care each time they interacted with your company. Happily, with the advent of social media and other digital communication tools, you’re able to streamline this process — and give your customers a number of choices for getting in touch with you.
You’ve probably heard of “customer-centric” business models; preference-based communication is just one way that companies demonstrate their customer-centric practices to their clients.
The idea is simple: when customers reach out to you, they should be able to choose how they want to communicate with you, rather than having to use a single channel. Of course, there are some disadvantages to this approach: different channels can be more expensive than others, and you’ll need more staff members available in order to serve more types of customers at once.
But the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Customers want autonomy and choice when it comes to their communication methods. Why not meet them half-way?
Customer Surveys — And Acting on Results
So, you’re thinking about sending out customer surveys. Excellent!
Customer surveys can be a vital part of a company’s strategy for acquiring and retaining customers. However, for many companies, customer surveys are one of those things that seems like it should be done but never actually gets around to being done until the company is in dire straits. That’s because customer surveys can feel like they take time away from other important tasks—customer surveys are the stuff that happens when you have time to spare, not the kind of thing you do while you’re racing against deadlines, right?
That thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth, and here’s why: customer surveys are one of the best ways to find out what your customers think about your company, what they wish you did better, and what problems they think you need to solve — or don’t even know exist yet. Getting customer feedback early on lets you improve your service before your customers decide enough is enough and leave for the competition. Customer surveys allow you to be proactive when it comes to providing a great experience for your customers—and that has both tangible and intangible benefits.
The most key part of all of this is to act on those results. Put things into practice and watch your customer engagement flourish.
If you’re interested in upping your game in customer service, get in touch with us.