How should utility providers approach digital transformation?

More than 60% of digital transformation initiatives and pilots focus on improving customer experience, engagement, and retention*. And for good reason, as customer experience is vital for all companies, including utility providers, to keep pace with their customers. By bringing customer experience to the forefront of these efforts, utility providers can subsequently improve agent experience, reduce operating costs, and have a better position for rate increase approvals from regulators.

But where should utilities begin?

Digital transformation has been around for decades, but it has gained exponential momentum in the past few years. And while the concept can simply be explained as moving traditional business practices to digital experiences, such as paperless billing, implementing this idea in practice can pose many challenges. Where can utility providers start to have the biggest impact? How can customer experience be measured? What can companies expect for an ROI? 

We’ve put together three key considerations for utility providers to help approach digital transformation with a customer experience mindset. 

Understanding Channel Choice     

Many providers have mistakenly approached digital transformation simply by adding additional modalities, such as a chat feature on a website, to reach a customer service line. And while the intention is valent, typically these initiatives fail to create the recognizable impact that true digital transformation can create. Utility providers must recognize that it’s not just about increasing channel choice, but providing an effortless and omnichannel experience across all channels. 

The majority of providers still receive most of their volume through voice, and therefore should lead with the voice channel when approaching digital transformation. Implementing a technology solution that integrates voice channels with chat and SMS will see a greater impact and provide customers with a better experience.

Working with Technology

Technology is vital to any digital transformation initiative, and Conversational AI is the most beneficial when it comes to customer experience. A successful Conversational AI implementation, typically through the use of virtual agents, can bring effortless and productive self-service options to utility customers. 

But not all AI is created equal. Working with a partner who understands that Conversational AI is not just a technology, but also includes deep expertise in design is essential for lasting results.

Scaling beyond the contact center

Utility providers are always up against unexpected outages and seasonal implications for their customer service teams. When approaching digital transformation, scalability is important to ensure consistent customer satisfaction despite these volume spikes. Having technology in place that can enable self-service will provide live agents more time to focus on customers that need their support. And unlike outdated IVR technology, using a solution powered by Conversational AI will result in fewer hold times and greater customer satisfaction.

*McKinsey & Company (2018, October). Unlocking success in digital transformations. Retrieved from