To Improve Utility Customer Experience, Look To Your Data

by | Sep 15, 2022

Data is the foundation of the future utility

Data is the foundation of the future utility

Transformative businesses across the economy are continually moving the goalposts for digital services and, as a result, increasing customer expectations around timely, personalized digital experiences.  To keep up, utilities must meet the same expectations. Embracing digital services like other innovators allows utilities to increase customer satisfaction scores, deepen customer engagement, improve utility customer experience, and even uncover new revenue streams.

When assessing the state of utilities, it is clear that an increasingly widening gap is evolving between the highest performing utilities and those trailing behind. The difference, according to Business Wire, is in how the top-performing utilities use digital services to engage customers:

“Electric utilities around the country have been ramping up their communications efforts, often addressing everything from mobile alerts about outages to updates on citizenship initiative. Many top-performing utilities are getting that formula right, by visibly maintaining their infrastructure and leveraging technology to ensure businesses receive timely information needed to deal with outages and support decision-making. However, several utilities are still missing the mark by not focusing on these areas that drive customer satisfaction.”

- JD Power

When looking at how utilities should digitally transform customer service and communication, as well as improve utility customer experience, a common theme emerges: data is the foundation of the future utility.

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Customers crave personalization

Digital personalization

Regardless of industry, customers want to be treated personally as they have their own specific needs. When reviewing CCM in utilities, it’s clear that the most effective programs are the ones that recognize this fact and adapt accordingly.

“In fact, 72% of contact center callers expect customer service representatives (CSR) to know they are a customer, along with their product and service history when they contact the provider.”

- EnergySavvy

For utilities, this approach would ensure, for example, that customers in apartments are not receiving information on installing rooftop solar panels or customers who already use a utility weatherization program do not get recommendations to participate in such.

These missteps suggest to utility customers that their needs are not being evaluated uniquely. When they do not see that personalization, they may ignore future communications: relevant letters may go unopened, pertinent emails deleted, and so, the utility will lose the opportunity to reach them with programs that are relevant.

Conversely, when personalized customer engagement is prioritized, customers are more likely to be happy with the service.

“92% of consumers surveyed would be more satisfied if their energy provider could personalize their overall customer experience; What’s more, 78% would use more digital channels if offered a personalized experience across them.”

- Uplight

Targeting services through customer data analysis

Targeting services through customer data analysis

Leveraging customer data effectively allows the utility to build customer connections. Once that data is an integrated part of the utility, Communications can deliver effective, customized experiences through targeted services that connect with those customers.

For example, applying customer data in the creation of the bill can reduce the costs associated with producing and delivering additional communications. Every time a utility must print and mail past due or shut off notices, it costs money. Even worse, the process of shutting off power and then later reinstating it for individual customers also uses precious resources.

If, however, customer data is applied earlier in the process to highlight the risk of shutoff, using tactics like adding red or bolded text in customer billing, prevents escalation.

70% of low-income customers who are disconnected reconnect within 48 hours because they find a way to pay. If utilities reach these customers before disconnecting, the costly process can be avoided and the remaining 30% can be more handled in a more optimal, personalized, and cost-effective manner.

Additionally, if the utility taps into its data to determine how each individual customer typically interacts with the organization (e.g., paper notices vs. mobile apps vs. web portal vs. email), then it will know which channel it can use to reach each customer. This knowledge can likewise prevent escalating the issue to costly shutoff.

Leveraging customer data in this way enables utilities to realize a great return on investment. Data-driven bill design and customer engagement ensures bills are more likely to be paid in a timely fashion. Customers, meanwhile, avoid the unpleasant process of past-due notices and shutoffs.

Learn more about leveraging data for enhanced customer engagement with our on-demand webinar: Engage Customers with Data Driven Personalization and Targeted Messaging

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Data-driven customer engagement increases revenue and improves the utility customer experience

Utility leaders often think of utility data as being most useful for grid operations. But, in fact, the greatest bottom-line impact that data can have happens at the retail level-where the customer is engaged and offered appropriate products:

Digitization has demonstrable impact on utility earnings

Improvement areas, Improvement areas, case study, EBIT, 1%

Diagram: Digitization has demonstrable impact on utility earnings
1Earnings before interest and taxes.
McKinsey&CompanyProper customer personalization means communications are relevant to the individual, delivered in the right method and at the right time, and packaged to suit the individual household.

Across all industries, only 9% of customer experience professionals rate their companies as being very effective at personalization, with 29% evaluating them as not very effective. Utilities can be chief culprits, with obsolete and siloed data comprising 10-30% of an average energy retailer’s cost to serve.

Overcoming this roadblock allows utilities to take full advantage of insight-driven communication, which offers the following benefits:

  • Increased loyalty
  • Earlier payment
  • Adoption of services like auto pay
  • Increased patience and trust in the event of an unplanned outage.

Data accuracy, privacy and security must always come first

Data accuracy, privacy and security

While moving to more data-driven outreach, care must also be taken on the accuracy and proper handling of data. If data is inaccurate, it will lead to customers getting inopportune offers, which will lead to poor customer engagement. These issues can feed into a public reputation impact from dissatisfied customers sharing their experiences online.

Another key risk when handling data comes from ensuring data privacy. If utilities try to embrace utility data processes, but do so poorly or sloppily, they risk contravening critical regulations on data privacy. In today’s digital world, data security is paramount. The protection of personal information is not just the right thing to do, it’s a regulatory requirement.

Collecting, cleaning, and safely using data is challenging for any enterprise, so tapping into existing data analytics expertise is critical. A customer communications management (CCM) platform that enables efficient communication can be the most valuable tool.

How Doxim can support a data-drive customer engagement strategy

Business team having a meeting

As a single, trusted partner offering a holistic CCM solution that will meet all your customer engagement, Doxim can help you operationalize your customer data and make every interaction count. Doxim’s omnichannel CCM platform can be leveraged to ensure best practices in data collection, storage, and application, which effectively enables the future utility.

Doxim’s CCM can empower your business users to generate the frequent, ongoing, and personal interactions your customers crave, and distribute these communications through multiple channels (via print, PDF, HTML, email, text, and online interactive experiences).

The omnichannel capabilities of the platform are such that when a customer calls in to speak to a service representative or engages with a chatbot, both human and machine can provide immediate assistance by calling up the communication or document that the customer received. This keeps every customer communication connected, making multi-step, omnichannel customer interactions a reality.

Behind the scenes, Doxim’s seasoned customer experience experts can also help you encourage customer engagement and consult on creative communication design that delivers a great user experience.

And of course, Doxim’s customer communications management technology offers you all the security and compliance features you require to keep your customers’ sensitive data secure, plus the scalability and flexible pricing you would expect from a modern SaaS-based solution. 


See how we can enhance your utility company’s customer communications to effectively boost customer experience.

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Jason Pothen
Regional Vice President, Utilities and Healthcare at Doxim.
Jason has 22+ years of experience serving a diverse array of industries, across a wide range of print and digital communication technologies. Prior to joining Doxim in July 2020, he was a Senior Client Services Manager at Taylor Communications. In his current position as Regional Vice President, Utilities, Jason is focused on developing long-term client relationships to facilitate account growth and expedient conflict resolution, He retains a key interest in communication management in other regulated industries, such as the Healthcare sector.

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