Co-Author: Taran Preet Singh
Consumers expect digital services that are personal, self-servicing, and available around the clock. For many utilities providers, the first step toward digital customer experience transformation is delivering a best-of-class, on-demand system for customers to pay bills, review their payment history and update account history.
The industry now strives to provide customers with timely and targeted communication for system events by involving the customer in their preferred communication channel. It also aims at building a solid communications platform that meets customer needs. Earlier, industry had minimal choices when communicating with customers but with two-way customer communication a versatile communication platform has been established for the customers. Two-way customer communication seeks to increase the number of available communication channels starting with the big three— phone, text (SMS), and email.
High Level Details
Preference and Alerts: Customer satisfaction is not only a function of the quality of the product offering, but is also dependent on effective communication. There are multiple communication channels available such as email, text, voice calls and social media and customers are bombarded with a wide variety of information. However, information overload without regard to the customer preferences on how they can negate the effectiveness of such information. An effective customer preference and alerts solution will take into consideration customer preferences with respect to what, how and when they would like to receive information. The solution will have following elements:
An effective customer preference and alerts solution boosts customer satisfaction through effective communication.
- What type of alerts the customer wants to receive which can be related to billing and payments, outage or others event-based alerts?
- How would they prefer to review the alerts— through text, email, or voice?
- When would they want to receive the alerts (Customers are provided with the option to mute messages at night or opt for DND)?
(View of customer preference and alerts: Here customer can enroll to billing and payments alerts through email and text)
Customers will be able to manage preferences and alerts through e-service (website), IVR, or by getting in touch with the contact center and participating in proactive and interactive messages.
Proactive Messages: Proactive communication can improve customer satisfaction by anticipating needs specific to the customer. Customers can also control what messages they require from the service provider. There are various proactive messages which help improve customer experience:
- Bill Ready Alert
- Bill Payment Reminder
- Dunning Notices
- Credit Card expiration Reminder
- Meter Read Alert
- Customer payment Declined Alert
- Outage Alerts
During severe weather, customers often lose patience and a proactive outage alert is critical. Proactive communication in these times can help achieve better customer satisfaction.
Interactive Messages: This form of communication involves immediate, meaningful and important conversation with customers. There are multiple types of interactive messages which can be enabled or implemented based on customer needs and requirement. Each of these messages originate with a customer request. Once any of these interactive messages are initiated, a pre-determined conversational path will take place in order to satisfy the customer’s request. For example, customer can report outage by sending simple keyword (OUT) as SMS/text from their mobile and they can check the bill and make payments from their mobile by sending simple keywords.
The following interactive messages can be implemented:
- Customer requests registration via SMS
- Customer reports outage via SMS
- Customer requests for status of existing outage via SMS
- Customer requests for balance via SMS
- Customer requests for post payments via SMS
- Customer requests for scheduled PON payment via eServices
- Customer requests for cancellation of PON or TXT payment via eServices
- Improve J.D. Power scores by leveraging two-way SMS text (interactive messages) and other proactive messages:
- Billing, payment, and dunning alerts
- Keep you informed about an outage
- Provide accurate information about outage
- Unplanned and planned outage messages
- Increased customer satisfaction by providing timely and consistent information which the customers seek.
- Allow customers to select preference, alerts, and frequency of communication.
- Ensure messages provide relevant, correct, and timely information to the customer.
- Minimize long-term business expenses by providing customers with digital and self-service options. This will also reduce the inbound calls in the contact center.
- Provide reporting metrics about the number and type of messages sent per channel by date/time.
- Enable customers to respond to these messages where appropriate.
- Provide history details of messages sent in an admin view.