Technology, coupled with social media and the new hybrid environment, continues to transform how consumers experience and engage with businesses, including essential services. Customer-centric companies such as Amazon and Uber have catapulted essential services into a realm that was once reserved for consumer brands – affinity-driven habitual purchases and loyalty. This shift in perspective, along with a more conscious approach to consumption at all levels- from luxury to infrastructure, has given birth to a consumer who is eager to shift loyalties toward businesses that align with their sense of values, purpose, and on-point service.
The engagement opportunity
For an industry witnessing rapid transformation owing to an evolving resource mix for energy generation, the need for advancement in the transmission and distribution technologies, consumer preferences, and environmental and regulatory norms, energy and utility companies need not see this market demand as a threat. Given the rise of deregulation across states and trends such as community choice aggregation, this is indeed a high-potential opportunity to retain and win consumers without having to reinvent business fundamentals.
While models such as Meter2Cash have become global case studies for the industry, the next big opportunity lies with end-to-end interactive and integrated customer experience journeys. This is because consumers expect energy and utility companies to offer high visibility, transparency, and complete engagement in real-time, just like brands such as Uber that facilitate real-time details, not just about the cab ride and the fare, but also driver, traffic, location and more.
Such interactivity and engagement expectations present utility companies with the right context to leverage next-generation customer engagement models, tools, and methods. Being powered by intelligent technologies such as CX-first infrastructure, can facilitate deeper interactions and sharp data insights, and help build trust and reliability. This is critical when we consider that for a growing number of consumers, their energy and utility preferences reflect their commitment to sustainability and the planet. And therefore, they want to align with businesses that help them get closer to these goals flexibly and transparently.
Harnessing intelligent technology
Technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning is set to democratize and personalize the energy and utilities consumers experience in more ways than one. For instance, it is quite likely that IoT-connected utility meter devices will be the norm rather than just an option in the future. Meanwhile, as consumers expect real-time data and expert guidance to arrive at their energy conservation and sustainability goals, progressive utility providers are innovating in leaps and bounds to build a proactive customer engagement-centric business model. They leverage emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to derive deep insights and offer hyper-personalization to foster a fulfilling and delightful CX model.
Here are some of the key experiences they are delivering with such technology:
- Proactive listening and predictive solutioning: Rather than addressing consumer challenges only when they receive complaints, leading energy and utility businesses proactively seek to understand and resolve challenges. In fact, they are proactively anticipating customer needs and expectations with predictive analytics for a more fulfilling CX journey. They are analyzing omnichannel contact center conversations in real-time to understand customer sentiments, utterances, and journeys. Such insights are acting as the basis for formulating business rules to drive personalized CX journeys.
- Empathetic, human engagement: Companies are investing in multi-linguistic, natural language understanding bots to engage consumers seeking support across channels including web, mobile, social, and chat. Such technology understands the customer context easily and seamlessly prompts self-service resolutions.
- Interactive and strategic communication: Customers are omnipresent, and with the expansion of digital and social media, utility providers have started taking a strategic approach to interacting with customer subsets, especially Gen-Z personas.
However, the distinguishing factor for companies that continue to achieve a satisfying customer experience and win over their loyalty will be how accurately they prioritize journeys and not just touchpoints for technology integration. This will be critical to arriving at prompt insights that can transform disappointing customer experiences into high-affinity relationships.
Technology is set to democratize and personalize the energy and utilities consumers experience in more ways than one.
Implementing expert models
Energy and utility businesses cannot risk implementing CX model management solutions that may compromise the safety, security, and most of all, the reliability of its core service at any point in time. And therefore, it becomes important to work with partners who understand the criticality of the services offered by utility companies as well as retaining consumer trust.
The HCLTech U2C model delivers a comprehensive customer engagement platform for this industry requirement. HCLTech Customer Experience enables a 4-step approach to shape personalized customer experiences and exceeds expectations with the tenets of interact, inform, insight, and impact. The integrated model offers app-based visibility and seamless control, consumption management, and real-time guidance in achieving goals, be it a zero-carbon energy future or meeting greenhouse gas emission targets. Moreover, businesses can incentivize consumers to align their choices and behavior to cleaner energy or efficiency goals. With smart meters and smart homes changing what was once a single and linear relationship, companies can leverage the model to build highly engaged and purpose-centric communities and subcommunities with the business as a core facilitator.
The Energy and Utilities industry is poised for a rapid and shape-shifting transformation. To ensure business resilience and growth, such a change must prioritize a positive customer experience. The right step in such a direction would be to invest in CX models powered by intelligent technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning that allow companies to impact entire journeys and not just transactional touchpoints that let deeper engagement and insights slip through the gaps.