Omnichannel

Omnichannel CX-: Why Utility Industry Should Strike Up Omni-channel Conversations!

When our lights go out or the water runs dry, we always think of our utility. We want to tell them what bothers us, we want them to hear from us, and we need the quickest resolution. Utility communications play a very important role in this paradigm.

Omnichannel marketing, compared to multichannel, focuses on creating a seamless customer journey across all retail channels. Examples include unified commerce and personalized experiences. It emphasizes data integration and customer engagement, enhancing the overall customer experience (CX). It’s a holistic approach that extends beyond digital marketing to encompass customer service across all touchpoints.

Changing Landscape of Customer Communication in Utilities

Customers seek multiple channels to contact their service providers & take control over how they’re contacted. They expect more information from their utilities to measure the value of their service. It doesn’t stop here: – efficient, effective & timely communications in terms of everything I.e., outages, billing, and payments to energy usage is what customers are now paying attention to, all on their preferred channels of communication. 

The new communication strategy needs to be innovative, informative, personalized, multidimensional, omnichannel and should engage digitally connected customers. Utility Service Providers need to analyze their omnichannel customer journey, check the communication friction areas, and then make effective communication strategies.

1. Adding Intelligence to Communications 

When it comes to building strong relationships, it’s important to speak to customers as individuals to make sure that all messages to customers are personalized, relevant, and well-timed. With Digitalization, many channels have opened up for utilities for making data-driven decisions and for effective customer communications. 

Utilities need to have a strong understanding of their customers’ needs and interests, to make communications more effective. Also, digital technologies can help utility companies with a 360-degree view of their customers and help them understand their customers better. 

Also, technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, and NLP-powered Chatbots and virtual assistants simplify the way of interacting with utilities, while also driving customer self-service. These channels are getting more intelligent because they offer personalized resolutions within seconds. So, no more wait and hold.

2. Learn More on Utility Communications

One can also enjoy the significant merits of digital technologies as they help utilities manage demand and infrastructure and also aid in identifying consumer behavior, to optimize engagement and communication. These technologies also help in the creation of personalized offers and services for customers.

For the utility service sector, the mandate is clear: by riding high on the digital wave, companies should create a multi-channel customer experience to drive customer loyalty. 

Making complex interactions simple, enjoyable, and personalized across multiple channels should be the priority for utilities. Transparent communication goes a long way, to build trust and credibility. From the COVID-19 pandemic, economic slowdown, and other fateful events- we have witnessed the role, utilities play in our day-to-day lives and underscore the role of robust communications.

3. What Initiatives can be undertaken around omnichannel communication?

Omnichannel retail integrates various sales channels for a seamless customer experience. Unlike multichannel, it emphasizes brand consistency across platforms. Marketing automation, inventory management, and loyalty programs are key components, of enhancing customer segmentation and business intelligence. Achieve success with an omnichannel strategy, prioritizing customer lifetime value and analytics for optimal results.

Omnichannel

1. Embracing Mobility

Did you know smartphones and tablets are a great way for utilities to stay connected with their customers? Companies can provide real-time updates on expected outages or repair work as well as other document issues immediately. Consumers can get in touch with their service providers to resolve billing issues and lodge their requests for services whenever required. Mobile technology strives to provide the comfort of networking that can benefit both service providers and consumers.

2. Engagement Through Web

Utility mapping companies can engage better with their customers. This can be done by designing interactive websites driven by the gamification concept. Customers can track their consumption patterns and get to know more about reducing their carbon footprint. An inbuilt rewards program would also help bring customers back to the portal repeatedly to gain points that can be redeemed on the portal itself.

3. Social Interactions

Today, social media channels are powerful tools. It can help utility companies regain customer trust. Research shows that around fifty percent of Generation Y customers prefer social media and Internet/Web-based chat as their preferred choices of contact. Organizations should also respond to the feedback in real-time while monitoring social media channels for positive and negative feedback. Their quick responses coupled with an active social media presence would strengthen the bond with customers. It also helps them steer the conversation in a positive direction.

4. Know the Customer Experience Trends that Can Change the Face of the Utility Industry!

1. Customer Engagement Can Reduce Churn 

Companies today are figuring out where during the customer journey, a customer decides to make the shift and are using different omnichannel engagement strategies to reduce the churn.

Customer engagement communications involve reminders regarding:

  • Future invoices
  • Changes to services
  • Price hikes
  • Tips for the customers to save on the upcoming bills
  • Useful new features
  • Industry news that can affect customers

These messages can create a positive experience, which can lead to lower churn, even when you make mistakes. If you are not sure about what type of information your customers want from you, ask them. Simply perform a customer survey via phone, email, or text. Keep the survey short having four or five questions. After that, create a custom campaign, to engage different customer segments. 

2. Using Multichannel Communication for Distributing Relevant Customer Information 

Make use of multichannel communication for billing-related information, creating a new account, distributing relevant customer information, welcoming new customers, reminding customers of upcoming bills, etc.

Here is what a multichannel communication campaign would look like:

  • Interactive video message – a chief executive officer welcoming new customers
  • SMS/email to confirm new account activation
  • Email for sharing important tips on saving on bills 
  • Email to remind for bill payments and a link to make payment in the app
  • Email to share important industry news that can affect customers

In each communication include an invitation for the customers, to contact your customer service team through their preferred channel. It can boost multi-channel customer experience in multiple ways.

3. Positive Debt Collection Procedure

There can be a large number of reasons behind a customer missing a payment I.e., forgetting the payment deadline, dispute in billing amount, or affordability. Your collection process should be designed keeping those factors in mind.

Conclusion

In today’s dynamic world, customers expect a harmonious experience across all touchpoints. Omnichannel retail isn’t just about being present on multiple platforms; it’s about conducting a symphony where each channel complements the others.  By integrating online and offline experiences, businesses can create a smooth journey for their customers, fostering loyalty and driving success.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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