How self-service is making customers happier in the utility sector

Topic: Utilities

When provided correctly, customer service can play a massive part in making customers stickier in the utilities sector. In an industry sector which has traditionally struggled to keep customers smiling, opportunity knocks for providers who are willing to step up, and create great experiences for an audience who now realise that they don’t have to settle for anything less than great service. This is where self-serve customer service touchpoints can play a massive role.
When surveyed, nearly 3 out of 4 customers said that they would rather solve a problem by themselves (Source), and a third of customers would rather clean a toilet than have to make a call to a customer services department and speak with an agent (Source).
There are also direct benefits to be had for the utility provider too. Not only do self-serve platforms free up time for your in-house customer care teams to focus on other tasks, but you can also expect to see cost savings by automating previously manual tasks.

Round the clock support means more convenience for your customers

One of the main benefits of a self-serve platform for utility customers is that it’s available whenever, and wherever, the customer needs it to be. Whether it be on the bus on the way to work in the morning, or after the kids have gone to bed in the evening, a customer service engagement can take place at any time, and without the need to wait on hold to speak to an agent.
Convenience can also be provided to utility customers by supplying the same services through mobile devices that would be available via an agent call. Customer opinion certainly backs this up, with 60% of utility customers looking more favourably on suppliers that offer self-serve tools (Source) than those that don’t.

So what are the mobile-focused, self-serve options available?

Providing customers with the ability to self-serve can come in several forms when targeting customers’ mobile devices.
SMS
While SMS has been around for a while now, its use as a gateway to self-serve options in the utility sector can’t be ignored. For example, overdue payment notifications can be sent to customers (benefiting from a 95% open rate) which can also link to existing online portals where payments can be taken automatically.
Mobile Web Forms
Designed specifically for mobile, utility customers can be guided through any process ranging from taking payments and supplying a meter reading to switching tariff or finding the answer to a question.
All this is done in a visual, app-like environment which matches providers’ current branding and increases the chances of the journey being successfully completed (46.5% vs 12.6% with traditional web forms).

IVR
IVRs are telephony menus which allow customers to navigate quickly to their required department or service without the need for an agent.
Customers could be linked to the IVR via an SMS, which can then guide them through journeys such as making a payment, or supplying a meter reading.
IVRs are also completely configurable and can be quickly configured into utility providers’ existing systems.
RCS
As the next evolution of SMS, RCS offers utility providers the opportunity to have richer, conversational style interactions with customers within their native messaging app.
By using tools like rich cards, option carousels, and response buttons, utility providers can enjoy better interactions with customers in the place they’re already having their conversations.

How can utility providers get started on the road to self-service?

If you’re interested to know more about how a self-serve strategy can help utility providers, and how Esendex can make the process work more effectively for you, please get in contact with our team today on 0345 356 5758 or email us at sales@esendex.com.

Author Avatar
Warren Delay

Hi, I'm Warren, and I'm the Product Marketing Manager here at Esendex, specialising in product positioning / requirement. I also have an extensive knowledge of product management, and love working at the cutting edge of new tech!