Customer Service Remains a Priority

Since it costs more to acquire new customers, utilities should pay more attention to keeping existing ones.
Published: Thu 01 May 2014

With utility bills on the rise, coupled with a sluggish economy, the ability to improve customer service has never been more important for utilities. With the economy making it increasingly difficult for customers to pay their utility bills, the ability to understand and engage with customers has never been more important.

Customer service has long term benefits

Many utilities are of the view that customer service improvement will cost a fortune. However, what utilities should know is that by improving customer service on a large scale will generally lead to larger profits, and lower costs down the line. It is also important to note that it can cost five times more to get new clients-existing clients have the potential of being a lot more profitable than new ones.

By implementing key operational customer service improvements, a great deal of customer dissatisfaction and negative reactions can be overcome. By improving customer satisfaction, utilities may be able to hold on to less than satisfied customers, reach out to new customers, as well as keeping state utility regulators happy.

Another sure way to keep customers happy is by providing a fast and reliable service. The best way to do this is to reduce customer response times. By providing greater access to vital data in real time, utility staff will be given the tools to make more informed decisions, as well as improve user productivity.

By giving customers access to their consumption information online, customers will be able to review their bills, usage rates and even pay bills online for optimal convenience. Utilities can do this by utilizing current software and utility billing technology to integrate their operating systems to a more efficient and intuitive model.

Flexibility with regards to payment options is also a way of providing good customer service. By offering multiple methods of payment including cash, debit, credit, and online payments, customers will find it easier to conduct business with the utility. Budget billing allows customers to spread high seasonal bills over a greater period of time.

Make communicating easy

Customers should be able to contact their utilities directly and with no fuss via a number of communication channels. A wide range of channels should be adopted as customers will have their preferences and convenience is the name of the game here.

A multi-faceted communications approach including telephone, internet, wireless, text, email and telephone messaging systems will make the utility widely available across its customer base. This could mean sending timely text messages when notices are due, and sending telephone messages and emails when service interruptions might occur.

By improving customer communication, customers will feel secure in the knowledge that their best interests are being taken into account. It also shows that customer service is one of the company’s highest priorities.

In the end, if customers can see that their satisfaction is as important to the utility as its own bottom line, they will be loyal customers for years to come.