Customer Communications Management in Utilities ‘Reconnects’ Utilities with Customers.

by | Apr 8, 2021

A Look At The Critical Role Customer Communication Plays In The Utilities Industry

The utilities industry is under pressure to transform digitally.   A daunting task for most utility organizations, but undergoing this change is necessary. Not only will it help them become more efficient and agile, but they will also benefit from an improved customer experience, which is critical for success in today’s competitive, dynamic, digital landscape.

Considering all the digital technology and tools available today, there is no justification as to why utilities cannot prioritize digital transformation. Enhancing digital customer communication is a great place to start, so Customer Communications Management in utilities is becoming ever more important.

The articles that follow will give you a clear picture of how critical the shift to digital and specifically digital customer communication is for utilities today.

Our CCM expert, Erin Romo concludes with great advice on how utilities can use digital customer communication to build a strong customer relationship.

Doxim can help enhance your utility organization’s customer communications. CHAT TO A DOXIM CCM EXPERT TODAY

Digital Experience: Why Do Utilities Lag Behind Other Industries (INFOGRAPHIC)


A mobile icon in grey and a tablet in blue grey, representing the digitla experience

A great infographic by J D Power that compares the utility industry to other industries in terms of digital experience. It is noted that utilities lag other industries when it comes to investments in digital, despite consumer demand and the past year’s events that compelled most industries to speed up their digital transformation efforts.

Here is a summary of the key points highlighted in this infographic (with a focus on utilities):

  • Utilities only redesign their digital properties every 5 years
  • Utilities’ mobile web experience underperforms other channels
  • Many utilities don’t offer mobile apps despite their popularity and benefits
  • Assisted digital channels, such as online chat, are not available to utility customers despite becoming the norm
  • “20% of utility customers are not able to resolve their problems on the digital channel of their choice”
  • Education and communication need to become a priority to help customers make informed decisions based on usage, etc.

Read further to learn more about the state of digital transformation in 2021, more specifically, the seven key trends that have been identified, namely: The rise of on-demand healthcare, the importance of big data in healthcare, treating patients with virtual reality, the growth of wearable medical devices, predictive healthcare, artificial intelligence and blockchain and the promise of better electronic health records.


Critical Role of Customer Connect in Changing Utilities Environment

Connect with clients represented in an icon

A two-year digital experience study by J D Power shows that “customer communication has reached its highest point among utilities.”

Utilities today face many challenges, such as, an increase in consumer expectations, old infrastructure, a rise in demand and environmental instability.

It is noted that a focus on the customer relationship is a key determinant in a utility’s future success. It is therefore vital that utilities focus on improving customer satisfaction. Reference is made to a previous JD powers study which shows that “higher levels of customer satisfaction one year prior to a rate case are associated with higher levels of return on equity for a regulated utility.”

We also read that today, to improve customer satisfaction utilities need to invest in digital technology, to align with consumer’s current expectations based on their exposure to such in other industries. Successful utilities are leveraging technology to enhance customer communications and drive self-serve options. It is noted that digital communication channels are preferred for customer communication.


How COVID-19 Is Changing Utility Customer Engagement

Person in the middle of a broken circle, representing customer centricity

It is no wonder utilities have had a weak relationship with their customers. Referring to customers as ‘ratepayers,’ as noted in this article, is a clear indication thereof! However, the pressure is on for utilities to focus on improving customer relationships.

Key factors forcing this change:

  • Digital customers have new expectations
  • Clean energy regulation presents opportunity or threat
  • COVID-19 impact and shifting workforce requires focus on containing and reducing costs
  • Newmarket entrants have a narrow lens

The current digital landscape provides utilities with many opportunities to improve their business processes and enhance customer engagement. Specific reference is made to digital transformation in the high-tech sector and how it has led to customer success. It is therefore suggested that utilities apply the ‘success lessons’ from this sector when planning their transformation.

Read the article further to learn more about the ‘five key customer success principles that utilities should borrow.

How customer communications management in utilities can improve customer experience

Often, the bill-to-payment journey is the only regular touchpoint a utility has with its customers. So, it’s vital to begin with this touchpoint and make it the best customer experience possible.

Once the utility billing and payment journey is optimized, the utility should expand to other communications. This could include sending customers useful and timely information outside of the regular, expected communications.

For example, offering a text or email alert when there is excessively high usage is valuable to the customer. It also benefits the utility, as unexpectedly high bills can increase the chances of the customer switching energy providers.

There are many ways utilities can use digital customer communication to build a strong customer relationship.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Encourage customers to sign up to receive text or email alerts, so they are kept in the loop when there is an emergency or outage.
  2. Provide consumption reports by email, so customers can see trends and alter their usage accordingly.
  3. Recommend programs to help customers save money, such as incentives for purchasing home energy upgrades.
  4. Use social media accounts to keep customers up to date on topics like energy-saving tips, infrastructure upgrades, and cost-saving programs from the utility.

The speed and interactivity of digital channels gives utilities the opportunity to significantly improve customer engagement and customer experience.

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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