The PUC rate case. Though the specific rules and requirements vary by state, each regulated utility provider is familiar with the typical rate case outcome: the push to decrease costs and increase customer satisfaction.
A rate case doesn’t have to be the sole prompt to boost customer experience. After all, there’s a direct and proven correlation between customer experience and business profitability. Once you decide to invest in CX, it’s time to determine how you can make prudent choices that will generate the biggest impact.
DEFINING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE GOALS WITHIN YOUR CX JOURNEY
Every company is on a customer experience journey, whether they’re on the cutting edge of technology or catching up to the industry standard. No matter where you are, there are tools available to help you reach the next stage and accomplish your customer experience goals.
Customer Satisfaction Journey: Phase One
As a baseline, most utility companies have some degree of external-facing media and an IVR system.
- External-Facing Media: A variety of print and virtual media provides a great broadcast medium and the first contact point for most customers. This channel can be used to reach a new user base, advertise the full suite of services, and provide general service updates.
- IVR: A touchtone or voice-activated phone system can enable a company to address widespread concerns quickly. Low wait times and consistently correct answers will bolster confidence from customers, and therefore company perception.
Customer Satisfaction Journey: Phase Two
Building a more efficient technology suite can help take the customer experience to the next level.
- Customer Portals: This channel is primarily functional, allowing the user to quickly interact with your company and make requests. The experience should be efficient, intuitive to use, transparent, secure, and designed well to engage the customer. A successful portal can be gauged by a high volume of engagement, but a low time spent in use by each user. The portal can be an offshoot of your primary website, with the sole purpose of addressing requests normally handled by live call agents.
- Mobile Apps: While a phone application will be the most complicated channel to implement, it presents the most significant opportunity for differentiation in the marketplace. A mobile app should bring the most important functionalities from each channel right to the customer’s fingertips. Engaging with customers on their phones is vital and having a quality mobile app provides a one-stop shop for all routine user needs. Even though this channel will feel like a duplication of many other functionalities, that is a primary goal. Customers like convenience, and a smartphone is something they already use throughout the day; by providing your information and services to a location they already frequent, your customers will be thanking you for coming to them instead of forcing them to come to you. Due to the complex nature of developing a mobile app, ensure a robust implementation team is engaged throughout the project for optimal customer base engagement.
Above all, customers are seeking quality experiences with accurate information. Maintaining the quality of the experience is only possible when you evaluate the customer’s journey holistically to ensure that each new channel you incorporate will serve a specific purpose. To this end, as your company moves from phase one to phase two, a clear mobility and change management strategy is imperative.
Customer Satisfaction Journey: Phase Three
Now’s the time to have fun. After establishing a baseline of customer tools and then ensuring that systems are in place for continued growth, companies can add in the bells and whistles that make for a truly unique customer experience. Introducing a virtual assistant, for example, can both facilitate a flexible experience for your consumers and serve as an enhanced and consistent branding effort. This phase of the customer journey is about innovation and experimentation within the larger framework of your digital strategy.
- Relevant Notifications: Tailored communications create an opportunity to build credibility. When a customer can, say, get a text message or push notification that there will be an outage at their residence with an accurate time estimate for when service will be restored, they’re able to plan their day accordingly. Though this may seem like a mere convenience, it could mean that an individual who works from home is able to plan to spend the day at a co-working space so they don’t miss an important meeting while the power is out. This is the type of interaction that can turn your customers from buyers to brand advocates.
- Omnichannel Experience: Picture a technology suite that has it all: self-service options, smooth single-point interactions via portals or apps, and proactive notifications. All of these channels work in tandem to not only create a positive experience but to strengthen trust and customer loyalty.
The destination of the customer satisfaction journey will continue to evolve with available technology and expectations in the marketplace. However, no matter where you are on that journey, there’s always room to keep pushing forward. Fill out the form below to learn more about what the CX future might look like at your company.