It wasn’t too long ago when power and utility companies prioritized operational excellence over customer experience (CX). This was a logical choice since ensuring constant service uptime and managing a distributed workforce served as mission-critical objectives.
Today, however, there is another important aspect that utilities need to take note of – enhanced customer centricity and digital innovation. Rapid advancements in technologies like smart homes and smart metering, together with the rise of mobility and social media, are playing a critical role in empowering customers and transforming the way they interact with companies.
Customers today, are no longer satisfied with low power costs or fewer power outages, rather they demand access to services that are fast, personalized and connected. Whether regulated or unregulated, large or small, utilities aiming to improve their bottom lines need to accurately anticipate customer needs, simplify transactions and extract actionable insights from customer data to simplify decision-making.
And, it is here where technology can help them create the real difference.
Defining a Technological Framework for Consistent Omnichannel Experience
‘Omnichannel’ serves as a quintessential element of customer experience and service across industries, including utilities. Customers today want to interact with their utility service providers through multiple channels and seek greater control over how their requests are handled.
To understand the requirements of each customer in the entire service ecosystem, a utility needs to create a robust omnichannel strategy that proactively identifies customer needs and meets them holistically. To begin with, companies need to strategically integrate and streamline all customer-facing channels that often operate in silos. And the first step towards achieving this is process automation.
For instance, an organization can significantly cut down on operating costs by implementing advanced Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions across critical consumer touch points like metering, billing and settlements, records management, complaints or customer transfer. Such technologies can even enable seamless information flow across processes – something that is indispensable to proactive service delivery and customer communication.
While technologies like robotic process automation promise to usher in endless possibilities for utilities, it also creates further dilemmas for decision makers. The growing momentum in digital adoption in utilities will only add to the humongous amount of customer data. Now, the question is whether organizations can interpret this data to effectively segment their customers.
Big data represents the next big opportunity for utilities to achieve customer-centricity. With efficient data aggregation through high-end analytics platform companies can effectively understand customer demographics, their behaviours and sentiments, while creating more targeted customer segmentation. Ideally, utility companies may choose to quickly deploy customized bundled services across these segments, depending on unique requirements.
When it comes to offering personalized services, even mobile responsive applications serve as a critical differentiator for companies. For instance, energy usage across multiple devices can be analyzed to gather critical insights, which in turn can allow utility companies to help consumers control energy-savings. Mobile applications and smart digital portals that provide customized insights, alerts and information on energy efficiency can serve as a great way for companies to garner better customer engagement across channels.
With the utility industry under constant pressure to provide smart, seamless and affordable services, the ability to quickly adopt process innovations seems critical. But, technology implementation is not always as straightforward. Embedding new systems and devices within existing ecosystems require significant process and cultural change and that comes with its own risk. Nonetheless, the march of digital innovation will face lesser hurdles if utilities accept their fate of constant proactive evolution.