Bringing Utility Customer Communications Management Under One Umbrella

by | Oct 14, 2021

The Value Of Vendor Consolidation For Utilities

Utility companies must constantly juggle many different technical and business aspects to keep the lights on for their customers. From electricity generation to power transmission, to grid upgrades, to responding to outages, to the shift to clean energy, to the integration of new digital technology…The prospects are enough to make anyone’s head spin. While keeping those physical lights shining for homes and businesses across the service area is the number one goal, energy leaders know that keeping the metaphorical lights on at the utility is just as important and complex as utility customer communications management. They have to  ensure that all customer interactions occur smoothly, accurately, and in a timely manner.

So, while power providers must focus on the actual electrons moving through their service lines, forward-looking leaders know how advantageous it can be to partner with outside solution providers for utility customer communications management. This type of partnership can be especially beneficial for smaller utilities with less available employees and resources to spend.

That said, the proclivity to outsource these needs to vendors may quickly lead to similar inefficiencies, and associated costs, multiplying if they utilize unique partners for each aspect of that journey. Instead, the shrewd utility will seek to find the perfect partner who can cover that entire utility customer communications journey, optimally, under one umbrella.

Get the best-in-class CCM expertise from the first utility customer communication, all the way through to payments, late notices, and beyond. CONTACT A DOXIM CCM EXPERT

Why utility customer communications management should be under one umbrella

When partnering with an outside provider for any aspect of the utility’s customer communications, the company must still spend internal resources to ‘own’ each vendor relationship. For each of those relationships, utility employees will be undertaking regular (monthly, weekly, or in some cases even daily) touchpoints to monitor the outputs, evaluate the process, identify areas for improvement, and put out any fires that arise.

This process can be time consuming and a waste of money. A main goal of finding these vendors was to save the time of in-house employees, but those benefits get undercut with every additional interaction required to keep yet another of the numerous relationships on track.

Further, when errors unfortunately and inevitably do arise somewhere in these processes, having unique partners responsible for various aspects of the journey only makes diagnosing the problem, triaging the plan of action, and enacting final action  more difficult.

Utility representatives will be facing growing conference calls, cascading email chains that bring in multiple vendors, all with each vendor trying to explain why any error was not their fault or responsibility. In the end, all the utility cares about is simply finding the best solution as efficiently as possible. But with multiple unique vendors, the energy companies find themselves herding cats instead when trying to get all the involved and potentially impacted parties together to create an effective action plan.

Each subsequent vendor also creates a new silo, retaining and not sharing information, data, resources, and more. These silos create unnecessary walls and challenges in any business environment, as the breakdown of communication and associated inefficiencies are artificially perpetuated.

And in the end, the frustration from multiple vendors isn’t just about convenience and efficiency, but it also relates to security. The more places a utility’s data is housed and the more points of entry into the internal systems, new opportunities arise for potential cybersecurity breaches.

These challenges are no exaggeration either, as the average enterprise typically manages more than 10 different vendor relationships for a single digital initiative. With each subsequent vendor, the potential issues can only snowball further out of control and into an unenviable risk environment. But all is not lost, as utilities can turn to the following strategic solution: vendor consolidation.

The value of vendor consolidation for utilities 

Vendor consolidation is the strategy wherein the utility opts to identify a single, trusted provider who can own the entire customer communication journey from beginning to end. The utility works with one, consolidated vendor without interruptions and inefficiencies associated with additional outside third parties.

The strength of the relationship between utility and vendor only grows and becomes more impactful when the attention is focused on a single partner. Further, the ability of that partner to oversee the entire process means that, if any issues arise, or if any new processes are desired, then implementation is now just a straightforward, one-stop process.

The savings can be immense…

A study by Capgemini shows that the associated savings of vendor consolidation starts at 5% and can go all the way to 30%

Further, customers can notice the difference in tone, style, and process in the customer communication journey if they’re getting different messaging with unique vendor fingerprints – depending on where in that process they are. Instead, utilities operating under vendor consolidation can provide customers with a unified, direct, and authoritative voice that ushers them smoothly throughout the entire process.

This is a huge win for utilities, as they don’t just save but rather open new revenue opportunities. For example, 81% of customers, surveyed by Accenture, report confirm that a seamless customer experience makes them more likely to buy additional products and services from their energy provider.

Getting Started

For any utility company that’s already entangled in a web of vendors handling various aspects of their utility customer communications journey, the thought of tackling that process can be intimidating. Sticking with the status quo and making it work is the easiest and lowest inertia decision, but the positive impact of making those changes can be immeasurably great.

But to truly reap the benefits, utilities can’t just consolidate vendors on a whim, but instead, they must do so by seeking out the potential partner that can best fill their needs. Indeed, 59% of energy companies agree that engaging with the right vendor serves as a cost-cutting tool.

For utilities specifically seeking to consolidate vendors in their billing operations, Doxim provides the best-in-class expertise of these utility customer processes from the first communication all the way through payments, late notices, and beyond.

Doxim has transformed the way utility partners elsewhere have handled these critical aspects, and can bring that enterprise transformation mindset directly to your company as well. CONTACT A DOXIM 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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