Consumers await the revolutionary interface that will allow them to control their energy consumption. Besides maximizing efficiency in the home, these units will allow more
Marrying customer engagement and profits.
The evolution of communications technology has drastically changed the way utility companies can communicate with customers. One-way dialogue that begins and ends at the meter is no longer acceptable; customers demand a two-way conversation. From the phone to email, text messaging, print, and mail, there are many more channels to communicate with customers today. Maximizing those opportunities can seem overwhelming, but the reality is all of these communication channels present an unprecedented opportunity for utilities.
Customer engagement strategies and technologies enable utilities to better connect with their customers, learn more about what they need, how they consume energy, and turn that knowledge into new revenue opportunities. It also can lead to more on-line interaction and payment acceptance.
A better understanding of customers’ pain points and demands leads to better solutions and services, which in turn improves customer satisfaction and loyalty. It also cuts expenses, which makes proactive customer engagement the perfect marriage of engagement and profits.
To develop a strategy that can deliver consistent and effective customer engagement, executives begin by asking questions about practices and goals. How often do you communicate with customers now? How well is it working? What channels do you have in place to talk to customers? What channels are on your wish list? Who will be the champion internally to facilitate the program? What’s the process for acting on the results? These are critical questions that need to be answered. Talk to those that have done this before and use your partners to leverage their best practices advice. No two strategies are alike, but they often share the same goals and can save some headaches during the planning process.
A key step is to find out what’s working and what’s not. Taking the time to discover end-to-end business process pain points creates the opportunity to transform them into better solutions and services. For instance, walk through the current communication lifecycle with a customer. Where are the communication triggers? Meet with the appropriate business and IT process owners to gain understanding of the systems capable of invoking triggers that result in customer communications or internal alerts. The next step is to evaluate which data points are required to facilitate the communication request. Is editing or enrichment required in order for the request to be fulfilled? This process will also outline dependent applications and data needed to meet the objective.
The next step is to determine what additional information is needed regarding customer preferences, accounts, and premises for complete delivery of the trigger communication. This is the best opportunity to augment the engagement event with as much data as possible. Things that might be identified here range from gathering the customer’s preference on how and when they would like to be communicated with, to premise and lifestyle data attributes that lead to more customized, targeted, and engaging communications. This process can address whether and how customer preference and premise information is gathered using such things as web, interactive voice response (IVR),