Utilities Customer Engagement: Still Many Challenges Ahead

Everyone agrees that customer engagement at utilities across the country, and even around the world has improved greatly in the last few years, but there are still many challenges ahead. Utilities face so many challenges that the industry has even seen the birth of a new type of executive — the utilities executive as a rock star.

This new breed of executive is exemplified by Paul Bender, the new head of public utilities in Cleveland, Ohio. Bender learned his chops directing utilities across the United States and spent time evaluating the success of water utilities in Africa and consulting with the nation of Botswana on improving water and sewage services.

A survey from BRIDGE Energy Group reports that some utilities are following the lead of people like Bender and improving customer engagement, but the number is surprisingly small. BRIDGE says that only 9% of the utilities they surveyed have a clear view of the customers they service to deliver on those customer’s expectations.

How can you have great customer engagement if you don’t understand customer expectations?

At one point customers accepted what ever service they received at utilities but those days have ended. Customers are pushing back and utilities must meet these demands. Modernization is critical for providing and acceptable level of service. The issue is always modernizing without blowing out costs.

Call centers are a good example of this type of push/pull. A utility’s call center is the primary point of customer interaction for adding new customers, accepting payments, collections, and resoling customer problems. This means that modern call center software needs to be powerful flexible, and must regularly adapt to new technology.

The problem is that on premise call center software is expensive and slow to upgrade.

The solution — call center in the cloud. A cloud call center solution is upgraded, maintained and updated by the provider. This alleviates the expense of running the sof ware on site for the utility company. For more information about improving customer engagement, please contact us.