5 Ways Digital Communication Can Improve Your Utility Customer Relationships

by | May 13, 2021

How Utilities Can Leverage Digital Communications To Build Strong Customer Relationships

Today’s tech-savvy consumers expect their utility to provide a customer experience in line with what they receive in other industries. Unfortunately, the utility sector was not an early adopter of digital technology, which would have helped them meet these evolving consumer expectations.

One reason for this aversion to change is perhaps that there has not been much need for utilities to be concerned about customer experience and retention until now. The lack of competition for utility services in certain areas has resulted in a sense of complacency when it came to customer retention, allowing the utility to focus solely on infrastructure, rather than investing in customer experience.

There are other reasons why utilities are resistant to change. The industry is highly regulated and while this should create a stable playing field, the reality is that renewable energy regulations are constantly shifting. This puts pressure on utilities to keep up, which draws further attention away from improving customer experience.

Now, in addition to the evolution of customer expectations, utilities are feeling threatened by increased competition. This is brought on by new technology entrants and partnerships offering alternative services that reduce customer loyalty and dependency on the utility itself.

While utilities scramble to catch up, there are ways utilities can start adding value to customer relationships via a digital communication strategy.

5 Ways digital communication can improve your utility customer relationships

Print communication will continue to play a vital role in a comprehensive customer communication management plan. The challenge is to advance digitally, without neglecting print and mail requirements and to remain consistent in messaging across channels.

Digital communication offers several unique benefits, to the utility and its customers:

1. REAL-TIME INFORMATION:

Digital communication enables the utility to provide real-time information that empowers consumers to make smart decisions. This is becoming increasingly important in a world of instant gratification, where consumers want information at their fingertips, with the click of a button.

Consumers are more tech-savvy than before and want immediate access to information that can, for example, help them save money and be more efficient. For example, a self-service portal provides instant access and can present customers with all the information they need in real-time.

2. CHANNEL PREFERENCES:

Offering digital communication channels provides the consumer with one of the most important benefits: choice. Consumers expect to be able to select their preferred communication channels and to receive information on the device they choose, in their own time.

3. FASTER DELIVERY:

Digital communication offers quicker turnaround times, meaning the consumer receives critical communications on email, text or via a portal, much faster than print and mail.

Digital communication also offers proof of delivery which is often required in regulated communications. Faster delivery of communications like bills can also speed up payments and reduce days sales outstanding.

4. PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCES:

Digital interaction between a utility and its customers allows for the use of data analytics to assess customer behavior and enhance CX. Data is critically important, as it enables personalization and today’s customers expect utilities to personalize their products, pricing and overall experience.

Not only should communications be personalized, but they should also present the data in a way that is easy to understand and actionable. Present the most important information first and let the customer drill down to the supporting data for detailed usage, time, and comparisons.

5. TWO-WAY DIALOGUE:

Digital communication is an entry point for encouraging customers to engage with a variety of online messaging and web properties.

Once a digital relationship is established, you can direct customers to a particular link or document which contains exactly the right message at the right time.

The digital relationship opens a two-way dialogue that can be leveraged for utility marketing campaigns and operational information. More importantly, it brings you closer to the customer.

Utilities must have a foundational communications strategy that both anchors and synchronizes the customer experience, regardless of channel. To achieve this, they must be agile in response to shifting regulatory requirements, evolving consumer expectations and new digital technologies.

This requires investment in customer experience. Fortunately, research shows that spending on CX is worth it when the results are increased customer lifetime value and customer “stickiness”.

At Doxim, we understand the unique requirements of the utility sector and can advise on how to leverage digital communications to build strong customer relationships. TALK TO A UTILITY CCM 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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