The Ever-Evolving, Influential Customer Experience Trends in Utilities
To ensure that your company performs optimally, you’ll need to have a strong understanding of the trends going on in your industry. While this is important for every niche, it is especially true for businesses that operate in the utility sector.
For those who are not quite up to speed, we’ve got all the information that you need to keep in mind. Let’s take a look at noteworthy customer experience trends in utilities.
1. How Debt Collection Is Changing
As time goes on, we can expect to see major changes in the way utility companies collect a debt from their customers. One of the most significant catalysts of this behavior is the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is no secret that millions of people have been left without a form of stable income. As a result, many utility accounts are long past due. This leaves providers in a situation that forces them to accommodate the circumstances.
Fortunately for consumers, utility companies have proven to be notably flexible. This is particularly true when it comes to collecting debt that they’re owed.
In some cases, providers have even offered an extensive grace period during which customers don’t have to pay their bills. To facilitate this, service providers have had to rework their budgets accordingly.
But, the methods they employ to collect a debt will be relatively lax. Debt collection efforts will also be far more positive than they were in the past.
Urging customers to pay as soon as possible will only convey a lack of empathy. The customer experience trend in the utilities industry is for companies to show support for their customers now, while developing a long-term debt collection plan for overdue bills.
This permits utility providers to get back the money they are owed, but at a time when their customers will be able to afford it, which will also gain them the loyalty of their customers, who will not forget the flexibility they were shown during these difficult times.
2. Customer Loyalty Is Gaining Ground In Utilities
It should come as no surprise that having a customer switched to a competitor is one of the worst scenarios that could occur for a utility company. Historically, the utility industry has involved very little focus on customer loyalty.
This is because the services provided by these companies are essential. To elaborate, any of these businesses assume that they will always have a solid customer base due to many people having very few or no alternatives.
Utility companies are focusing on improving the overall experience that customers have with them as a provider in any way that they can. The trend for 2021 is to invest in CX as part of a customer retention strategy.
3. Price Increases Should Be justified With Additional Services
It’s not uncommon for utility companies to raise prices as time goes on. As they accrue more and more customers, they proportionately stretch their own resources.
This means that the increased customer base could end up being a burden on utility providers because they must accommodate this increased volume of service. As a result, they also need to increase the price that each customer pays to support the upgrade.
Fortunately, utility providers are looking for ways to justify the necessary price increases to their customers by including additional services.
One of the most common types of services offered involves providing customers with a detailed breakdown of their bills. Not only will they be able to discern the source of each cost, but they could also then take steps to analyze their expenses.
For instance, a particular customer may not be aware that half of their electric bill total is a result of kilowatt overages. With this information in mind, they can make the requisite lifestyle changes to pay as little as possible each month.
Utility providers should also be ready to thoroughly explain the logic behind each of the charges on a customer email. Otherwise, they risk leaving the individual dissatisfied and having them work with a competitor instead.
The customer experience trend for the utility industry in 2021 is to turn customer correspondence like invoices into documents that provide clients with extra services. Interactive invoices could deliver comprehensive information in accessible formats and improve CX as a result.
4. Customer Engagement Strategies Must Be Revamped
As previously mentioned, enhancing customer experience is an essential change that utility providers must make. So, they are revamping their customer engagement strategies to develop a better relationship with their audience.
This typically includes providing additional insight and transparency regarding company practices, asking for customer feedback to make necessary improvements, etc.
To improve CX, utility providers must make their full range of communications customer-centric. Giving clients the option to sign up for email newsletters will not improve their experience significantly.
To make a notable change, utility companies must upgrade their communications to suit their customers’ needs. This can be achieved by using a comprehensive CCM solution that will streamline communications across all channels, map customers’ journeys, and provide essential analytics that power continuous improvement.
The focus on improving customer engagement is one of the major trends in utilities for 2021 and beyond.
5. Communication In Utilities is Mobile
Many utility companies still rely on email and even snail mail to provide updates, alerts, and other crucial information that consumers need to know.
But the 2021 trend in utilities is for providers to tap into the many advantages that mobile devices have to offer.
For example, basic processes like account creation confirmation can utilize text messages for confirmation, verification, etc.
They could also be used to provide occasional updates on new company policies or relevant changes that customers may experience via SMS.
Utility providers can also build their own apps to get closer to their customers. These apps can provide useful options for the users such as receiving payment reminders to ensure that they take care of their bills before the deadline.
Customers can also use the app to find out useful information about the services provided by the utility company. A chatbot could also be included to answer some of the customers’ questions. For more complex inquiries or requests, the chatbot can transfer them to who can assist them further.
See The 2021 Utilities Customer Experience Trends In Action
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