The third week in January had Birmingham host the Utility Week Water & Energy Conferences, with industry leaders delivering their thoughts on the biggest disruptors and trends that will affect those within this industry.
A regulated industry, players within the Utility industry eagerly anticipate the yearly figures in reports from Ofgem and Ofwat. We’ve done some research into the latest statistics and it’s clear that utilities continue to face many challenges when it comes to customer expectations. (Download the infographic)
As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to a certain level of service which means we don’t just expect an uninterrupted supply of power, gas, and water, but better responsiveness whenever we require help. Meeting these needs often require utilities to invest in more resources, or does it? However, before utilities can determine how to develop the ideal customer experience, they must decide what that term means to them; customer experience means different things to different industries.
And whilst understanding the elements of the customer experience strategy is a good first step — successfully implementing it is another. In this blogpost, we will look at 9 key points that can assist utilities to positively translate their customer experience strategy into action.
Plan for the worst-case scenario
High call volumes come at times of crisis. Having the right technology in place to support contact centre staff is imperative.
Plan to be flexible
The contact centre is only one contact channel available for customers – dependent on the nature of the enquiry, would it benefit the company and customers to handle enquiries across other channels like Virtual Agents, Live Chat, Dynamic Web Forms, FAQ self-service or Social channels.
Are all contact centre staff up-to-date with the latest information and how is this maintained through technology? When staff shifts change or if they leave, does it affect the transferral of knowledge – how is this communicated. Do you have an Agent Knowledge-base?
Given all the tools needed (such as a cloud contact centre solution), is it possible, in times of crisis, for temporary and non-frontline staff to be used as agents following minimal training?
Avoid the need for customer to call in the first place. Is there another channel by which the cloud answer their queries? Push out service updates via social media to communicate with customers in advance of any issue to minimise contact?
Measure and control
Quickly and efficiently responding across contact channels to customer queries is key – is there a mechanism in place to monitor customer feedback to improve the quality of products and services and level of response in the future?
Do most customers need support during work hours or do they frequently require assistance out of office hours? Which are the most effective/popular convenient contact channels for customers – focus on these first.
It is imperative that all contact entre staff are trained to handle support, especially during seasonal influxes of contact. Effective communication, getting answers to customer quickly and consistently across all channels, can have a huge impact on how customers perceive your brand.
Prepare to adjust
A legacy infrastructure often risks only noticing failure when all has gone wrong. It doesn’t have the ability of gathering granular information to help understand how any issues might be developing. Investigate your infrastructure to see if it should be improved, updated, or replaced by more relevant technology.
Part three of this series will look at 2017 as a whole – will it be ‘The Year of Customer Engagement’ as predicted?