Lawrence Gramlick at NICE looks beyond the headlines at how utility suppliers can win over customers amid mass scrutiny.
Whilst many of us remember the well-known story of Maria and the Von Trapp family in “The Sound of Music,” I suspect that many more will be able to recount, much less fondly, a “horror story” regarding their utility supplier.
In recent months, increases in the cost of natural gas, the continued move to smart meters, and an abundance of complex information regarding subsidies and credits has created an environment where energy consumers are much more likely to be contacting their supplier.
While these interactions with the supplier may not have been bad, bill shock – or just the fear of it – has almost certainly left these consumers feeling negatively towards their current supplier. But why?
Utility suppliers are in the midst of a PR nightmare. Consumers are constantly being educated on the industry, and how it impacts them, by reading headlines, watching the news or scrolling on social media. As a result, customer satisfaction is often decided long before they speak to their supplier.
Just How Big a Mountain is There to Climb?
In February, Ofgem released the latest Market Compliance Review, a market-wide assessment on key areas including customer service and complaints performance.
The findings range from weak customer journeys and quality control to high rates of customer complaints. In this tough market, no supplier escapes criticism.
Whilst these reports are a necessity for an industry that has been regulated for over 30 years and offer some insight into areas which could be improved, it is all too often taken out of context.
Rather than shaming suppliers into doing better, this can leave suppliers fighting a tidal wave of unnecessary in-bound demand, which drives up operational costs and puts undue pressure on agents.
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Detractors?
While it is not possible to write the headlines, or change the economic environment, there is a way that utility suppliers can survive, and even thrive, in this environment.
Offering a superior customer experience during every interaction can not only win over new customers but, more importantly in the current climate, ensure that existing customers are retained, and vulnerable customers are better supported.
My Favourite Things: What Does a Superior Customer Experience Look Like?
Getting the simple things right, should be a priority for suppliers. Assisting consumers looking for key information around bills or smart meter installation, is just the start.
A Frictionless Experience Every Time:
AI-based routing ensures that interactions are dealt with efficiently, getting to the right resource first time, reducing the difficulty in contacting the supplier and long resolution times, which over 30% of consumers complain about.
Give Power to the People:
If the interaction needs an advisor, providing context about the journey so far and empowering them with the tools to provide clear, concise and consistent answers to increasingly complex questions will not only benefit consumers but also greatly improve the employee experience, increasing retention of both employees and customers.
Visibility at Every Step:
Every interaction must be analysed and assessed both in real-time and through direct customer feedback. Utilising a closed loop strategy to drive improvements based on the details in the data ensures that suppliers can no longer be told that they “simply don’t listen.”
Now that should be (the Sound of) music to consumer’s ears.This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of NICE – View the Original Article
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