Customer experience is a relatively new buzz phrase in the corporate world, especially in the utility industry. In the past, utility companies weren’t overly concerned with how customers and consumers interacted with their product because ratepayers often couldn’t choose their utility company. While that remains true today in some municipalities, many have seen the light and the massive benefits of upgrading their customer-facing platforms.
The Shift to Customer-Centric Solutions
We’re a digital society through and through. While this paradigm shift has its host of positives, it means rethinking the old ways of customer communication in the utility sector to keep up with the expectations of a world that thinks differently.
We have automated grocery deliveries, virtual assistants, and programmed thermostats. We check our bank account on our phones. There are therapist chat applications and virtual doctor appointments at the click of a button.
Here’s the bottom line: People want to accomplish their day-to-day responsibilities with less and less effort, and their expectation for their utility company is just as high as it is for their other daily digital interactions.
Multiple payment options, personalized communications, and visual usage reporting are all ways to up your customer satisfaction numbers.
Frictionless Payment Options
It turns out that ratepayers across the board enjoy the ease of mobile payments associated with their bills. And yet, some still prefer the convenience of email or online portals while others would rather pay their bills traditionally with a check through the mail.
Multiple payment options empower customers with the allure of choice. We like to make our own decisions and are much more likely to interact with a service (i.e., pay our bill) when we’re comfortable with the method of payment and communication.
Think of this scenario. You have email alerts set up on your phone through your electric company’s online portal. The electric company notices that it takes you more than two weeks to pay when they send you your email reminder.
One day, you get an email from the company prompting you to download its mobile app. When you download it, you turn on push notifications. Every time you receive a notification from the app, you pay your bill immediately.
There could be multiple reasons for this. The biggest takeaway is that opening up that extra payment option made your life easier, as you just click a button to pay your bill while you’re on the go.
How does this help the electric company?
Not only is the company’s customer happy, but the ease of payment has lowered its daily sales outstanding. Its customer service call center is less overwhelmed, as they don’t have to field any calls from people who just need to pay their bill, lowering operational costs.
The app that you downloaded also gives you an easy-to-understand snapshot of where your electricity is going, prompting you to look into energy savings solutions to lower your bill. This takes the pressure off of the company, reducing operational costs even further.
Customers are savvy, like to be in control, and expect convenience in almost all aspects of their life. It’s time to scrub the “traditional” reputation of the utility sector and bring them into the digital age.