Talking Omnichannel to the New Utility Customers

Sponsored by: Smart Energy Water

Embracing the shift in Customer Communications

When our lights go out, and water runs dry, we think of our utility. We want to tell them what bothers us, we want them to hear us, and we want the quickest resolution. As the utility customer evolves, so will their problems grow more complex, and so will they want the best of services. In this new paradigm, utility communications play a crucial role. The traditional one-directional, static messaging is morphing into real-time, bidirectional, personalized omnichannel communications. And it is here to stay.

No wonder there is a bulls-eye focus on building superior communication strategy. Agile companies train the new-age customers- say banks, e-commerce, or retailers, who are way ahead in listening to their customers. And the advancements in the technology realm have furthered the scope of transparent communications.

The new communication strategy should be innovative, personalized, multidimensional, omnichannel, and informative with an experience to cherish, to engage with these digitally connected customers.

Communications to Engage, Educate, and Empower Utility Customers 

Customers seek multiple channels to contact their service provider and take control over how they are contacted. They expect more information from their utilities to gauge the value of their service. It does not stop here- efficient, effective, and timely communications ranging from outages, billing, and payments to energy usage is something that the customers now pay attention to, all on their preferred channel of communication. These are customers- Today. Think of scenarios when we have more prosumers and what they will expect from their utilities. From personalized rebates, programs, usage insights, rate plans, etc., communications will need to engage, empower, and educate customers.

Developments like smart homes and smart metering, along with the rise of mobility and social media, will play a critical role in transforming the way they interact with their utilities. Utilities need to evaluate the customer journeys, look for communication friction areas, and then craft omnichannel communication strategies. 

Adding Intelligence to Communications 

When it comes to building strong relationships, it’s important to speak to customers as individuals, and ensuring that all messages to customer are personalized, relevant, and well-timed. Digitalization has opened channels for utilities to make data-driven decisions and add much-required intelligence to customer communications. In order to make communications more effective, utilities need to have a strong understanding of their customers’ needs and interests- which the digital technologies can help provide the 360-degree visibility of customers and help utilities understand them better. AI/ML/NLP-powered Chatbots, Virtual assistants, have added to the ease of interacting with utilities while also driving customer self-service. These channels are getting more intelligent by understanding query sentiment and offering personalized resolution within seconds. No more wait and hold.

On the other hand, there are significant merits of digital technologies such as Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) also help utilities manage demand and infrastructure but while also aiding in identifying consumer behavior to optimize engagement and communication. These technologies lead to the creation of personalized offers and services for customers.

For the utility industry, the mandate is clear: by riding high on the digital wave, companies should create differentiated digital customer experiences to drive customer loyalty. They have to make complex interactions across multiple channels simple, enjoyable and personalized for their customers. Transparent communication goes a long way in establishing trust and building credibility. Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, bushfire emergencies, Texas storm outages, and other fateful events we have witnessed recently highlight the role utilities play in our day-to-day lives and underscore the role of robust communications. It is time utilities start looking at customer communications from the digital lens and craft unmatched communications experiences.  

Author: Mashal Dhawan, Chief Marketing Officer, Smart Energy Water

Learn More on Utility Communications at Power Up

Join experts from SEW, SAP, Dominion Energy, and Tacoma Public Utilities to learn how to perfect the art of communication while providing robust digital self-service capabilities. In case of outages or other emergencies, we see what role omnichannel communications play. Get lessons on customer communications, how and what to communicate, tools to beat the uncertainty, and prepare for the next emergency. We will see what worked and what did not when it comes to crisis communications and explore the technologies’ role in building customer trust.

About Smart Energy Water

Smart Energy Water, with its innovative and industry-leading cloud platforms, delivers the best Digital Customer Experiences (CX) and Workforce Experiences (WX), powered by AI, ML, and IoT Analytics to the global energy, water, and gas providers. At SEW, the vision is to Engage, Empower, and Educate billions of people to save energy and water. We partner with businesses to deliver platforms that are easy-to-use, integrate seamlessly, and help build a strong technology foundation that allows them to become future-ready.