Linking Efficient Operations to Customer Centricity

By Trilochan Sahoo, Christine Calhoun June 2019   |   Article   |   12 min read   |   Email this article   |   Download
It’s time for an overhaul in the customer service department. But are utility companies getting the message? Retail customers want more information and interaction with their utility. New digital capabilities can address customer needs while providing the operational efficiencies executives need.
Linking Efficient Operations to Customer Centricity

When was the last time you thought about your power company? Probably when the lights went out and you were left in the dark. Millions of customers rely on their utility company, but only think of it when there is an outage, a bill that’s due or a change in service. As a result, utility companies have fallen behind in digital customer experience and engagement compared with retail and financial services.

Utilities need to address several challenges to implement a successful customer experience program. They have limited data on each customer and usually interact with them for specific transactions. Plus, data and insights given to the customer can result in reduced consumption, which makes it hard for a utility to justify the expense.

A recent Infosys research study found that while 79 percent of utilities believed they were customer-centric, only 7 percent of customers agreed.

Digital improvements transform customer experience

Digital channels have the potential to reach customers with personalized messages and two-way conversations at a fraction of the cost. Digital channels are more than a website and emails; utility interaction with customers can range from social media to messaging, chats and more.

Utility companies are grounded in the communities they serve. The entire workforce lives in the community and the service goes into people’s homes. Utilities tend to be very conscious about the impact they have in their community. Digital channels are a way to amplify those community interactions. There’s a lot of value in blending digital channels with community interaction. Utility companies can use digital channels to amplify the good work they do in the community. This is an opportunity that’s often missed by just thinking digitally.

Digital customer experience transformation is based on two fundamental design principles:

  • Industrialize for efficiency, agility, safety and resilience.
  • Digitize to connect with the customer, grid and workforce.