Utilities Should Adopt Multi-Channel Platforms

By developing a broader, multi-channel platform for customer communications, utilities can expect to reap long-term rewards.
Published: Wed 29 Jan 2014

Utilities are no longer merely service providers. They have also become information providers, thanks to the increase in smart technology. The ability to interact with customers when and how they want is key when it comes to doing business with the next generation of consumers.

Today, both the utility and its customers are fully aware of the major advantages that consumption data, and its proper analysis, offers. As technology develops, customers are demanding an increase in real-time, easy to access, personalised information and service. With all the technology available, customers have come to expect a higher level of customer service. The utility must work to avoid poor service as it produces immediate and long-lasting negative repercussions which are difficult to mend.

The impact of poor customer service-or limited infrastructure to support it- seems to happen during devastating weather conditions (as is the case with some energy providers in the US who are still repairing their reputations after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Irene in 2011), low program enrollment and general poor brand perception.

By employing a multi-faceted communications platform, utilities will enjoy a competitive advantage over others. There are numerous benefits of using multi channels for both the customer and the utility:

  • Improves customer communications
  • Communication channels are expanded and improved (call centre agents, online chat, mobile devices and social media platforms)

  • Provides a more comprehensive, accurate and updated platform for data collection and results reporting

  • Improves awareness and increases enrollment for programs developed to assist customers save energy and lower bills

  • Emphasis on accurate, relevant personalised messages grabs the customer’s attention in the world of information overload

  • Makes for a more distinguished engagement with the customer as it can integrate all communication channels from online support to mailing marketing materials and tracking customer interaction

  • Streamlines the effective and clear communication of energy efficiency programs via numerous easy to use channels

  • Helps to collect and integrate data to attain valuable insights on consumers. This data will be used to target services and enhance performance levels

  • Helps to increase program participation and brand loyalty via various customer engagement tools

  • Creates quicker service resolution, bill payments and provides valuable customer feedback
     

As the benefits promise to enhance program performance, data integrity and overall customer satisfaction, it is also essential for the utility to employ the most suitable channels, as well as employ the right skills to manage them.