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Communication Trends for Utilities

Communication Trends for Utilities

Thousands of professionals from utility companies all over the world gather once a year to catch up on customer service best practices at CS Week. It gives electric, gas and water/wastewater utilities the opportunity to hear from their peers and industry experts on topics ranging from A (Analytics) to Z (rate Zones). Adam Berke, utility expert at Broadridge, was in attendance and offers his unique perspective on the current trends impacting the utility industry.

Q: What was the prominent theme at CS Week 2017?

A: Customer experience was definitely the hottest topic of sessions and side discussions at CS Week 2017. Utilities have an opportunity to support the entire customer experience lifecycle and this touches upon every aspect of their business: from the field to the call center, from the monthly bill to emergency outage notifications, from Demand-side Management (DSM) to Customer Information System (CIS) implementations.

Q: What customer communication challenges are utility companies facing?

A: I spoke to numerous companies at the conference and many are planning – or are currently undergoing – a CIS implementation; they are migrating from old mainframes to more flexible solutions that will enable them to better serve their customers in support of their customer experience goals.

However, after hearing about our work with a large East Coast utility company, many asked me, “How do we manage our current electronic consents as we go through the migration? Should we re-paper?”

Every company is unique, but my advice is to ensure you have a CAN-SPAM and eSignature-compliant email distribution solution that provides a high delivery rate. Once you overcome that first hurdle of actually reaching your customers electronically, you can work with a provider that can transfer the data from the old to the new system while managing your customer preferences with precision. This eliminates the re-papering process and makes your internal technology updates seamless for your customers.

Q: What advice would you give utilities when it comes to their customer communications?

A: Customer experience and customer communications are extremely interrelated. How you talk to your customers, the messages you deliver, demonstrating you know them as individuals, respecting their print and digital communication preferences – all of that greatly influences their experience and perceptions of your company.

It benefits utilities to assess their current customer communications and ensure their strategy aligns with their customer experience goals. The monthly bill is still the primary customer touchpoint for many utilities. By leveraging this “monthly appointment” with customers, utilities can drive customer behavior, accelerate the meter-to-cash cycle and improve the customer experience.