Self-Service, Social Media Power Better Customer Service for Utility Companies


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There’s a nightmare brewing for East Coast utility companies: FrankenStorm, a monstrous merger of hurricane and winter storm that could inflict $1 billion in damages and leave people without power for weeks. And no matter how hard and fast utility companies work to restore service after a storm or outage, it never seems to be fast enough for affected customers.

According to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study, overall customer satisfaction with electric utility companies is down from last year, a 625 out of a possible score of 1000. Even worse for brand reputation, two utility companies top the list of the Top 15 Most Disliked Companies in America.

Restoring Customer Satisfaction
Customers don’t like to be kept in the dark when it comes to their utility services. Better and more proactive electronic and social media interactions are shown to up the average customer satisfaction score 89 points to 714. This includes providing outage updates and service schedules via email, mobile applications, social media and website updates.

The study finds that 82 percent of customers prefer to be proactively contacted during outages with information and updates.

“The more information electric utilities proactively provide during an outage, the higher customer satisfaction will likely be,” said Oberle. “Customers value being kept up to date and want to resume their lives as quickly as possible. Notifying them in a proactive manner ensures that they know the latest information and are kept apprised of their unique situation.” said Chris Oberle, senior director of the energy and utility practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

Delivering Service Updates Where Customers Are
When the power goes out, many customers go to social media or reach for their smartphone to complain online, contact their utilities company about outages, see when crews will be in their area and more.

When utility companies proactively note on social media, their website or via mobile apps that they are aware of outages, are working to restore service, are working in certain communities, or will be working in certain communities, this cuts the number of phone calls and emails from customers, as well as hold times which cause frustration dramatically, allowing utility companies to better focus on the work at hand.

“Electronic communications offer many advantages to both energy utility companies and their customers,” said Oberle. “Not only are they extremely quick and cost-efficient, but they also enable utilities to tailor messages to targeted customers. It is a win-win situation for both.”

Utility companies, as well as phone and cable companies, are smart to invest in both self-service information delivery and proactive social media communication as a way to serve and satisfy more customers when the power goes out.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tricia Morris
Tricia Morris is a product marketing director at 8x8 with more than 20 years of experience at technology companies including Microsoft and MicroStrategy. Her focus is on customer experience, customer service, employee experience and digital transformation. Tricia has been recognized as an ICMI Top 50 Thought Leader, among the 20 Best Customer Experience Blogs You Must Follow, and among the 20 Customer Service Influencers You Must Follow.


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