Utilities are in a unique position of supporting the entire customer experience lifecycle and this impacts every aspect of their business: from the field to the call center, from the monthly bill to emergency outage notifications, from Demand-side Management (DSM) to Customer Information System (CIS) implementations.
The single most influencing factor of customer experience is customer communications. Essentially, how you talk to your customers, the messages you deliver, demonstrating you know them as individuals, respecting their print and digital communication preferences – all of that greatly influences their experience and perceptions of your company.
Many utility companies have shared with me that they are assessing their current communications strategies, specifically their bills, since these monthly documents are read by 97% of consumers for 2-5 minutes.1 For example, some companies are adding color to their printed bills to improve the experience while others are applying sophisticated marketing techniques to their online bills, leveraging data and analytics, such as meter usage and energy trends. I’ve consulted with a few utilities that are transforming their bill into a new revenue-generating vehicle by selling advertising space directly on the bill (e.g., incorporating an ad that promotes consumer alternatives or even a product, such as a Nest Learning Thermostat).
Others have started incorporating specific calls to action to influence energy usage and behavior. They are finding that providing this information proactively is reducing the number of calls into the call center and accelerating the speed of payments.
Customers not only appreciate but they expect these brand engagements to be personal and relevant. According to Forrester’s research2, consumers say they are ready for their billing experiences to be more customized to address immediate questions, appeal to their mood, provide information that’s relevant to their lifestyle, and reach them on their preferred devices.
Utilities can also learn a lot about their customers based on how they engage with communications. For example, what are they opening? What messaging is most impactful? What do they not care about? This data provides insights for how to make the next communication even more valuable – for both you and your customers.
Your existing bill may be the most powerful touch point you have with your customers. How are you leveraging it to improve the customer experience?
2Anjali Lai, “The Value of Contextual Communication.”