There was a time when “choice” and “utilities” were two words that seldom intersected. Today, that’s hardly the case as the exploration of new types of power generation have opened up the marketplace. Those newfound options have given customers power. Utilities should address that power and provide a customer experience rather than traditional customer service. This shift can help match new expectations and needs.
In response, utilities have upped the ante on customer service strategies to show customers that they care. That they want to be the provider of choice. If doubling down on customer service is something your utility wants to do better, the tips we’ve drafted below might be helpful. Check out these five ways utilities can make customer service a pillar of their organization.
Put the “care” back in customer care
The last year and a half has been among the most trying in our country’s history. Many Americans are still reeling from the pandemic. Some utilities offered reduced payment plans or extensions at the start of COVID-19, but many have since reverted to the status quo. We aren’t saying customers should receive anything for free, just that utilities should remember the environment we’re still in. Empathy is a great practice when they speak with customers. A little bit of kindness can go a long way.
Related: Utility Customer Complaints are Serious Business
Map out your customer experience
When we talk about empathy, it’s referring to putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Getting a sense of how they feel. What better way to do that than by following the customer journey from start to finish. Take the time to play customer and attempt to sign-up for a service, or pay a bill, call for help, request a service technician appointment, etc., and find the gaps leading to the customers’ confusion or dissatisfaction. As you discover the areas ripe for improvement, don’t be embarrassed or shy about telling your customers what you uncovered and what you’ve done to fix the problems.
Related: Prioritizing Customer Service Across the Business
Learn who the customer is and how they live
You can’t take care of someone if you don’t know who they are or what they need. Modern technology affords utilities plenty of opportunities to leverage data. Learning more about their customers and how they use their products. Look for more than just peak usage times by breaking down the data by zip code to see if certain areas are more inclined to use the product at times when others aren’t.
Related: Customer Service as Two-Way Communication
Tailor your communications
Once you’re armed with your customers’ behaviors and habits, you can start delivering content. Tailored to them. For instance, data might show an uptick around the holidays as people tend to gather in groups and cook large dinners. Prior to the holidays, you may want to send a friendly reminder via email. Give them tips on turning lights off in unoccupied rooms, or safety suggestions around using the gas grill.
Related: Customer Engagement Over Customer Service
Follow-up with customers who voice complaints
No matter how much emphasis you put on serving the customer, something is bound to go wrong at some point. Complaints are inevitable. What matters most is not only how you handle those complaints but how you close the loop. For customers who voice their displeasure, make sure you’re following up after assuming the problem has been fixed. Confirm that it has been fixed. Customers that are happy with the resolution will appreciate the additional touch base. It also gives you one last chance to make it right with those who aren’t.
If you need support in the area of r commitment to customer service isn’t quite at the level you’d like it to be, Utility Partners of America (UPA) may be able to help. To learn more about our offerings and how we partner with utility companies just like yours, contact us today.