Communication Is Key in Digital Innovation for Utilities

by | Dec 4, 2020

Utilities Delivered On Digital Innovation, But Communication Essential To Realize Benefits

Digital innovation in utilities was an essential response to new pressures brought about by COVID-19. As a highly regulated industry providing essential services, there was no grace period for utilities to carefully plan their interventions. Consumers needed power, water and gas, and utilities had to provide it, no matter the other challenges they were dealing with.  

And the sector came through with many ways to drive digital innovation in utilities.  But realizing the full benefit of these interventions requires the support of relevant and appropriate communication to customers. 

Take energy-saving initiatives as an example. It benefits both utilities and consumers to manage consumption, and many utilities already had programs running to help customers improve energy efficiency in their homes. These programs involved a house visit from a utility worker to walk through the home and identify ways to save energy. 

With physical visits not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions, some utilities began providing the option of using web conferences or video calls to conduct a virtual walkthrough to identify potential saving opportunities.  This innovative response was a great way to continue to provide this service, however, neither party would realize the benefit if the consumer was not made aware of this as an option.

Communication Plays An Essential Role In The Success Of Digital Innovation In Utilities

Communication about the digital innovations provided by utilities is essential, as customers need to know how to ease their own pressures by using digital tools provided by the utility. 

Another example is more subtle, and it has to do with easing the general anxiety brought about by COVID-19. Consumers are understandably concerned about how utilities would continue to keep critical infrastructure operational while under lockdown.  Especially when considering essential services such as hospitals and public resources are under pressure due to an increase in citizens needing assistance. 

To combat these concerns, utilities need to communicate their planned initiatives for maintaining the resiliency of critical infrastructure and ensuring business continuity.  Without this essential information, consumer stress levels just continue to grow.

In addition to the above, many households have lost part or all of their income, and are increasingly anxious about their ability to keep paying their utility bills. The response from utilities, and in some cases government, is to introduce payment relief programs and to pause collection notices.  

These programs bring essential relief to affected households, but only if the person responsible for paying the bills is aware of their options. 

What utilities can do to ensure adequate communication around digital innovation initiatives

Utilities should embrace the power of digital communication. Digital channels, such as email and text, offer speed, flexibility and a range of applications. 

For content-rich communications, it makes sense to use the full capabilities of digital communication to provide information in a way that is interactive, dynamic and engaging for the customer. This type of communication is best suited to email or ePresentment and can be applied to statements, bills and other content-rich documentation.  

Urgent notifications, such as outage notices or over-limit warnings, should be sent as short text messages to ensure they are received and read as fast as possible. For example, providing a text alert when there is excessively high usage is valuable to the customer. It also benefits the utility, as an unexpectedly high bill can double the odds that a customer switches energy providers. 

Customers appreciate receiving useful and timely information, especially about digital innovations that will benefit them. On the flip side, utilities that embrace innovations deserve the recognition and to realize the full advantages that digital innovation brings. TALK TO A UTILITIES EXPERT

3. Expansion of digital products

As banking customer behavior shifts, banks must move with the times, or risk getting left behind. Many banks today are exploring the power and potential of open banking, which can allow them to offer more innovative products and services to their customers, as well as to better compete with fintech companies and other non-traditional financial service providers.

As you shift your banking business model to reach new segments or provide an enhanced array of services, communication becomes even more pivotal to your success. After all, if your customers don’t know which new services they qualify for, or how those services will help them meet their goals, then they are unlikely to explore them further. CCM technology can be leveraged here to provide personalized on-statement messaging that directs customers to the right products and services, as well as 1:1 personalized “explainer” videos to help them get started.

Adjusting your bank’s priorities to thrive in 2023

In an era of constant change, the key to successfully transforming your bank’s business model will be to stay attuned to the changing needs and preferences of customers, and to be open to exploring new opportunities and technologies that can help your FI stay competitive and relevant. But these new opportunities are doomed to fail if you do not clearly communicate their benefits and make it simple for customers to access them.

That is why transforming your customer communication strategy is the best first step to broader digital transformation. By updating your approach to communications to meet omnichannel customer needs, you also position your bank to communicate the benefits of changes in your broader organization, like new or enhanced products and services. The pace of change in banking has never been brisker – but with the right strategic approach to these changes, the future is bright.

Investing in a modern customer communication management and engagement platform is an essential part modernizing your banking strategy, as it can provide the personalized digital experiences that will keep your bank or credit union ahead of the competition. It helps provide a great customer experience, and builds rich relationships, which in turn results in customers for life and a competitive advantage in the rapidly evolving financial marketplace.

How Doxim can address the banking customer communications trends identified and help future-proof your digital banking strategy

banking customer communications trends

Doxim’s experienced consultants and omnichannel platform can help transform your customer experience in many ways, including:

  • Gathering and utilizing customer data to continually improve the personalization of communications.
  • Building trust with customers via communication (via print, PDF, HTML, email, text, and online interactive experiences).
  • Leveraging interactive video to drive personalized digital customer experiences, such as interactive statements, bills, or reports, that offer visual engagement and real-time interactivity
  • Putting customer data, including customer statements, at the fingertips of your service representatives for immediate and personal service.
  • Making a meaningful connection with value-added content, like information about philanthropic activities, on customer statements.

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