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Utility Customer Relationship Management

 

Aging infrastructure, new technology and increasing costs to serve are forcing utilities to engage differently with their customers.

Utility Customer Relationship ManagementSuccess requires a stronger customer relationship, and customer experience is an increasingly important component.

While utilities often lack the internal technical expertise or capacity to advance customer experience in time, third-party platforms can help utilities rapidly evolve their services and simultaneously help cut expenses and create efficiencies.

Brilliency’s utility-specific customer engagement platform equips utilities to offer individualized customer experiences and to make more strategic, cost-saving decisions.

 

Schedule a no-cost consultation and ask how the future of utility customer relationship management is in your hands.

Request a Consultation

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Utility Customer Satisfaction

A century of reliable and economical service is an admirable achievement — and electric, gas and water utilities have accomplished just that. Today’s market place now requires utilities to adapt to unprecedented change at a time of increasing costs and unpredictability. Utilities cannot count on the technology, business models or customer expectations from a century ago. Instead, they face a conflicting set of challenges that demand excellent customer experience.

Customer experience and satisfaction have not been high priorities for utilities until recently. Recent studies of utility customer satisfaction reveal that current efforts to improve customer experience are yielding results that are too slow, too small and too infrequent to make a real difference. In some cases, external forces such as lower raw material pricing (i.e natural gas) temporarily increased customer satisfaction.  These external forces, when moving in favor of the utility, can numb the urgency and in fact exacerbate the problem. 

Though overall customer satisfaction remains low industry-wide for electric, gas and water utilities, it is starting to improve for those organizations that become more communicative and more responsive to twenty-first century customer expectations. These customer satisfaction leaders do not rely on circumstances, rather they offer better customer experiences.

So, how does a utility change the customer relationship in ways that improve customer satisfaction? They need to understand each customer and communicate in ways that align with the customer’s priorities.

Some utilities have started developing partial solutions in-house or from a third-party, such as online bill-pay, but to truly improve customer satisfaction, more is required.  Today’s marketplace demands an integrated set of tools that respond to consumer expectations for customized communication and individual control across multiple touch points.

Forces larger than the utility-customer relationship drive the trend toward integrated tool-sets. Everyone is looking for them. Harmonized, comprehensive technical solutions are a priority across governments, businesses, and other organizations.

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Utility Customer Experience

Utilities that provide a good customer experience reduce cost to serve, gain efficiency and improve regulatory outcomes, found GTM Research. Utilities that deliver an excellent utility customer experience will have an easier time justifying changes to rates or rate structures with their customers because they have built trust.

Customers will pay more for engaging, personalized customer experiences and they will abandon services that offer substandard ones. This point is vital for retailers and small utilities susceptible to privatization or acquisition.

Utilities cannot afford to get this wrong. In some instances utilities face direct competition. But customer experience matters even where they don’t. For many — especially electric utilities, tech giants are ready to disrupt traditional utility business models.

Brilliency provides a comprehensive, ready-made, digital engagement solution (mobile and web) that your utility can customize to its unique needs. Schedule a demo today and see how.

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Will utilities need to restructure to survive?

Silos inhibit customer experience. Because customer experience requires cross-department measurement, communication and coordination, internal structure matters. Utilities may view the upheaval of internal restructuring as a huge roadblock.

Meaningful internal change requires deliberation, correct analysis, and accurate information. But where the change under consideration is a prerequisite to gathering the necessary information, utilities must make decisions blindfolded and bound to proceed by trial and error with heavy upfront investments. Utilities do not have extra budget (or customer satisfaction numbers) to make mistakes.  Utilities do not have time to experiment with IT hiring, software development and technical support. None of these are areas in which many have deep bench strength or experience.

Thankfully, there is another way. Utilities that use a third-party solution can have some assurance that it is viable enough to provide meaningful data, and then can make refinements without the blindfold.  That is, if their third-party solutions actually deliver meaningful data that allows cross-silo or cross-department analysis, collaboration and action.

Brilliency provides the data-driven customer experience built for utilities, and it comes with tools to measure many, if not all, of the critical KPIs for today and tomorrow. If your utility is looking for customer data that helps drive change,  ask your customer engagement software to deliver it.  See how Brilliency can help you collect data today.

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Good Customer Experience / Cost to Serve

Utilities need to control cost to serve their customers so that they can focus on delivering reliable service — and the infrastructure upgrades necessary to do that.

Gas, water and electric utilities face a rising cost to serve. For instance, a recent article in Scientific American analyzed years of data and found the cost to serve the customer is rising at 6% on average and is currently hovering around 9% of total cost to do business. Though situations vary widely, the same is true at many utilities.

Rates are rising faster than the Consumer Price Index for water and energy utilities. And they need to plan for future funding and know how they will justify rate increases should they become necessary.

At Brilliency, we help utilities provide the customer experience that most people expect in the twenty-first century. This can help utilities cut the cost to serve with convenient billing, proactive communications about service, behavioral efficiency improvements and by informing infrastructure investment decisions with detailed customer usage data. See how it works today.

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Forgettable Communications

One thing about the utility-customer relationship has not changed: consumers still forget about their utilities when everything is working well. At Brilliency, we aim to change that for the good.

Traditional communications by paper bill make proactive messaging difficult and slow for utilities. At the same time, their customers easily ignore these messages. The bill as a communication channel is over 100 years old, and it now feels 100 years old to customers.

Utilities have more and more objectives that paper bills cannot support as a communication medium. A century ago, consumers were less sensitive to outages and timely communications about efficiency, demand response and a host of other twenty-first century options that were not even possible. Now that they are, a century-old communication channel just cannot keep up.

The paper bill can contain any static visual information, but it cannot reach customers at the right time for them to respond. When the bill finally does arrive, how can a utility know if customers paid any attention beyond the amount? Customers do not respond to forgettable communications, i.e., paper-based messaging (including bills and statements). They use dynamic digital interfaces with many other services, and bring those expectations to utilities. It is easy for them to ignore, skim, or forget almost everything on a mailing. If it’s not a bill, they may not even open it.

Finally, utilities need to understand customers better. Without customer data, they cannot build better customer experiences, improve customer satisfaction, do better demand response or invest more strategically in infrastructure. Brilliency lets your utility provide twenty-first century customer experiences. Schedule a demo, and see how.
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Call Centers

The call center is a cost center. Neither utilities nor their customers want it to be the first (or even second) choice for customer service. Digital communication channels chosen by customers are more convenient, and they reduce call volume. Because call center personnel are the largest share of call center costs, reduced call volume is a good way to cut costs.

As the population becomes more technologically literate, utilities need to plan for customers that prefer more digital interactions at an increasing rate. Even utilities committed to the idea that their current customers enjoy, “Waiting on hold for the next available representative,” must admit that things cannot stay this way.

At Brilliency, we bring a cost-saving, utility-specific customer engagement to utilities so that they can engage customers in more pleasant and data-driven interactions.

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Divergent customer interests

DIVERGENT CUSTOMER INTERESTS REQUIRE INDIVIDUALIZED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES

In the Information Age, utilities cannot count on uniformity of consumer requirements, expectations, values and demands. Customers vary:

  • in the ways they want to communicate with a utility
  • when they want to receive information
  • how much detail and control they want
  • how sensitive they are to fluctuations in bills
  • in attitudes about environmental issues

Because of incompatible individual interests, what delights one customer may leave another nonplussed or even annoyed.

Most utilities do not know which customers should receive which messages. They cannot reach consumers in the ways most likely to get a positive response. In fact, utilities have trouble even getting noticed — until something goes wrong.

Many customers and utilities share at least some values. Both want more efficiency. Both need more information than ever before. Both benefit from digital self-service. Both would embrace new technology if the benefits for each were clear.

Brilliency is a platform that opens up the flow of information between utilities and their customers. We help utilities to:

  • Understand customers
  • Provide more flexibility, value and control to customers
  • Reach customers where and when they prefer it: phone, text, website and mobile app.
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Customer Insights & Engagement

Utilities need to understand their customers for a range of reasons, including better customer experience, better efficiency, more strategic infrastructure investments, and better demand management. A century ago, utilities lacked the technology to handle customers as individuals, so they handled them in bulk as ratepayers. That is not necessary anymore. Personalized customer service benefits customers and utilities.

Utilities that provide personalized customer experiences show the value of that technological investment. Utilities need better customer data and analytics if they want to meet the challenges of accelerating change driven by the mounting pressures of customer expectations and business and regulatory requirements. Research shows that when utilities do this, their regulatory, efficiency, customer engagement and cost to serve outcomes improve.

Brilliency provides turnkey, utility-specific, white label customer engagement solutions that give utilities unprecedented customer insights. See how it works.

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Get in Touch

Your utility could better serve its consumers and reach performance goals by:

  • providing advanced energy efficiency programs
  • responding quicker
  • rolling out new programs and services
  • building stronger relationships with its customers

Brilliency is a consumer engagement platform that helps utilities understand their audience and connect with them in a meaningful way. Brilliency is simple to use and allows consumers to better manage their home or business utility services. After an easy one-time setup, they use the app to see their consumption over time, learn strategies for improving energy efficiency, report an outage and connect to pay bills — one place for all their utilities right in the palm of their hand for the utility.

Brilliency helps you better understand your consumers. You can customize the interaction you have with them by using rewards-based incentives, getting information that matters to you; things like:

  • household behaviors
  • commercial operations information
  • interest in special programs

Brilliency also allows them to interact with consumers more easily, issue timely alerts, send energy savings tips, roll out new energy efficiency programs and communicate with them so they stay informed and happy. It all adds up to a better experience for the utility and the consumer.

Brilliency transforms the relationship between utilities and their commercial and residential consumers. Our cloud-based engagement platform increases energy efficiency and delivers behavioral demand response. Feedback loops with the consumer encourage learning, conservation and action through its game-based platform.

Get a no-obligation, one-to-one demonstration of one of the most powerful customer engagement tools ever to hit the utility industry.

Request a Demonstration