Utilities Can Build Trust And Commitment Through Effective Customer Communication Management
In the recent past, utilities have been under much scrutiny for customer service, specifically, how they operate and communicate with their customer base.
In a time when people are more connected and informed about business practices and social justice, it's no surprise that expectations have changed in this sector as well. The question is: how can utilities continue building trust, transparency, and commitment?
Why customer communications management is important in utilities.
Utilities have an important and crucial responsibility to provide safe, reliable products and services and to promote transparency and trust through customer communication.
In the past, utilities were an integral part of the community, but over the years, business practices have created a divide. Utilities need to bridge this divide by becoming more community-minded and being a larger part of the trusted community.
Promoting trust is a complex challenge that requires transparency from the utility and a commitment to meeting the customer's evolving expectations.
Benefits of good customer communications in utilities
A strong customer communication strategy for utilities is important to help build goodwill among customers. Customers are more likely to trust companies they can connect with.
In addition, customer loyalty increases when the public knows how their input influences decisions made by their utility companies.
A customer communication strategy for utilities will also help the company grow, as they can use their communications to provide important information about promotions, new products and energy-saving initiatives.
To build trust and commitment through effective customer communication management, utility companies should consider these three things:
- Be aware of your customer's needs and understand what drives them
- Create clear goals for customer communications
- Build a strategy around those goals
Let’s explore these points in more detail:
Be aware of your customer's needs and understand what drives them
Utility companies should be aware of the needs and desires of their customer base to create a successful communication plan and an even better customer journey.
What is it that drives them - better service, reliability, sustainability, or something else? The answer varies between utilities, but if you understand your customer's preferences and motivations then you can create a customer communication plan that will resonate with them.
It’s also important to be aware of the different channels your customers prefer to use. Utility companies should be open and responsive to ensure that their CCM software remains at the forefront of improving customer communications.
Create clear goals for utility customer communications
The first step to creating a successful customer communication plan is to define clear goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Is your utility striving for better service or reliability? Do you want customers more engaged in the brand, contributing ideas and feedback, as opposed to only receiving information?
There is no single approach that will work for all utilities, and it's important to make sure that communication goals are aligned with what customers want. For example, sharing information about privacy policies and how your customer's personal information remains protected, will ensure peace of mind.
Clear customer communication goals give you a foundation for creating strategies, evaluating progress, or setting benchmarks.
Build a strategy around those customer communication goals
Once you know what your goals are, you need to build a strategy that will allow you to achieve them. This should include how the company handles customer complaints and other feedback, as well as general communications about new services or changes in rates.
There is no one-size-fits-all for building strategies because each utility has different needs, goals and customers. A strategy could entail holding town hall meetings to hear customer concerns or setting up a cloud-based CCM solution or communication management software.
It's important to make sure the customer communication goals are aligned with what your customers want and then create strategies around those specific needs to ensure a great customer experience.
Transparency in utilities
Transparency is one of the most important aspects of maintaining customer trust. It's vital to be upfront and honest about any changes or new information your company has, as well as what you plan on doing next to make things right. Especially around the sensitivity of customer data.
Making it easy for your customer base to know what you're doing at all times is essential, regardless of whether the issue they have concerns billing or outage information.
The customer communication management strategy you choose will have a significant impact on how your customers feel about their utility. It’s not just the words that matter, but also the tone in which they are being delivered. It is also important to ensure the right team members maintain consistency throughout this process, including both internal and external communications.
If you need help managing your company's customer communications or want more information about what we can do for utilities, contact us today.
Vice President, Utilities Vertical Lead at Doxim
With over 15 years of experience in providing information technology and services to the utility sector, Erin's expertise extends across project and operations management, as well as sales and account management.
Erin was Director of Customer Solutions at Utilitec, (acquired by Doxim in 2019) having been with the company for 15 years. Prior to that, she worked as a Project Manager at MSX International.