Utilities Customer Experience: What the Finance Sector Can Teach Utilities

Utilities and customer experience – two phrases that have not always sat well with one another. Customer-centric CX solutions have been transforming the customer experience for certain industries, such as retail and travel, for decades. The finance sector is also now beginning to make significant CX strides. So what can utilities, a sector not known for outstanding customer service learn from the finance industry?

Investment in CX tech has clearly been a priority for the banks, in 2019, banks invested US$9.7b to enhance their digital banking capabilities in the front office alone. A necessary expense, some would suggest, as evidenced by the popularity and digital readiness of the new competing players and next-gen ‘challenger banks’.

Accessibility to digital solutions that are convenient and effortless for the customer should be a high priority for any new CX tech deployed. In fact, many challenger banks put the customer at the very core of their operations, by building their business around the services that customers want today or tomorrow, rather than how the industry functioned in the past. For example, offering registration via mobile apps; 24/7 contact hours; and involving the customer every step of the way, even going as far to send out product roadmaps, to inform them of upcoming features and functionalities.

Meanwhile, the customer experience for the utilities sector – an industry and business model that has remained relatively unchanged in the past few decades – is widely considered ripe for change.

Motivated by a shift in the perception of fossil fuel usage, obtuse pricing and abysmal customer service, the utilities industry is slowly starting to change, and, much like in the financial services sector, is likely to be led by the Customer Experience Revolution.

Third party utilities disruptors are already capitalising on incumbent utility companies’ clumsy and cumbersome customer experience by helping customers change suppliers quickly, conveniently and effortlessly.

There are also more socially and environmentally conscious energy companies that are bringing more transparency to the sector, with exceptional apps, that allow users to enjoy cheaper electricity prices whenever wholesale prices fall.

On the website of another renewable energy provider, it states: “We make energy simpler – so we make your life easier… And you can speak to a human when you have a question.”

This shows that, even in 2019, or perhaps, especially in 2019, in this era of digital transformation, automation and self-service platforms, the importance of a human interaction still cannot be overstated.

The days where utility companies can operate secure in the knowledge that their customers are unlikely to go elsewhere because they are the only-option provider are long-gone. Offering the lowest price to consumers who simply go to whichever provider has the lowest price is also no longer a guarantee of customer loyalty.

This increasing ease with which consumers can switch companies should act as a wake-up call to incumbent energy suppliers to focus on delivering valuable, transparent and intelligent experiences, and not simply be content in meeting the customer’s base needs.

Utility companies should not only be focusing on deploying smart technology and smart devices, such as smart plugs, smart thermostats and smart water meters, but also taking steps to re-imagine their oft-neglected area of customer experience.

According to the 2018 CGI Client Global Insights study, this is exactly what is happening, with 86% of executives from the utilities sector stating that improving customer experience was a top business priority.

There is much the utilities sector can learn from how the financial services industry has transformed its customer experience, from utilising technology that brings greater visibility and transparency, to augmenting the agent-customer interaction with the digital tools to share, display, exchange, complete, verify and sign documents as if in person.

Much like with the financial services sector, customer-centric CX tech for incumbent utility companies can supercharge the customer experience and radically improve business efficiencies.

Vizolution’s digital suite allows customers and agents interacting remotely, over the phone or online, to share, display, exchange, complete, verify and sign documents as if they were face to face. To find out how we can help your business replicate the qualities of a face-to-face interactions in remote channels, click here to book a demo…

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