Empowered with more choices for energy consumption, consumers are no longer tied to a single regional provider. Recent trend analysis conducted across numerous Aberdeen Group studies shows that the percentage of energy and utility companies citing the need to improve customer satisfaction as a key objective has almost doubled between 2012 and 2015. To prevent an exodus among subscribers, savvy utilities have made customer experience management (CEM) a priority, realizing they need to increase customer loyalty through initiatives aimed at improving customer interactions and expectations.
Most contact centers remain telephony-centric and focused on responding to inbound inquiries. As technology advances and customer expectations heighten, a predominantly inbound engagement model only addresses part of what drives satisfaction, and contact centers need a broader vision to deliver a more complete set of capabilities. This is particularly true for gas and electricity suppliers, as well as other utilities where smart grid and smart home initiatives are enabling two-way communication between energy providers and consumers. Today’s energy consumer is no longer a passive subscriber, and is instead keenly interested in managing their power usage and having more choice in how they interact with their utility.
The path forward for contact centers – utilities and elsewhere – is omni-channel. These capabilities go well beyond the conventional telephony-centric customer service model, and cloud-based omni-channel provides unprecedented flexibility for how utilities engage with customers.
For inbound inquiries, agents can interact via whatever mode the customer prefers – telephone, web chats, messaging, video, etc. A more holistic view of how omni-channel adds value lies in enabling live agents to respond to incoming inquiries along with initiating automated outbound notifications to customers. The latter is a form of proactive customer service, and while many contact centers see the value of doing this, their premise-based systems lack the capability. This is another example of why the cloud-based CCaaS model, Contact Center-as-a-Service, is gaining adoption now.
Delivered from the cloud, today’s outbound communications software applications address this need. Some examples include Service Outages, Maintenance Notifications, and Servicing Reminders.
When executed properly, customers will feel good about actively managing and being informed about their energy usage, household expenses and helping keep the planet green. Aside from this translating into higher levels of customer satisfaction, utilities will find new efficiencies by automating outbound notifications in ways not previously possible and provide better, proactive communications and not just for helping subscribers pay their bills on time.
To learn more about ways to utilize outbound communications in the utility sector and additional advantages to CCaaS, read our article on Energy Central.