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October 6, 2022
The energy market crisis, utility bills pressure, announced price cap, and impoverished wallets have affected utility customer experience. People search for better deals and ask for better-digitalized service. These and other issues result in customers switching a service provider or in overdue or worse – non-payments.
If utilities want not just to stay afloat but to be future-proof and competitive in the long run, knowing how their customers are changing is a must. So, in this article, you’ll get to know in detail the shifts in a customer’s behavior and what makes challenges in utility for them. And most importantly, you’ll find out how automation can become an ice-breaker for both utility service providers and consumers. Let’s dive in.
Who are they, these new-gen customers?
The analysis by Harvard Business Review showed that 50% of customers having a bad experience changed a utility provider a year later, compared with 78% of those having a good one, and stayed loyal. Thus, knowing changes in utility customer experience and how to tackle them is just pivotal.
Nowadays, stable costs for utility services are off the agenda. Uninterrupted services must come by default. Customers want “more commitment” in their utilities experience. This means greater responsiveness and personalised services. They expect service suppliers to become partners and offer services that help them meet their needs and wants not only in terms of bills but also in a clever use of the resources.
New-gen consumers are already spoilt with customer experience models from other sectors, such as Amazon, Google, Netflix, Airbnb, etc. These services deliver personalized and curated data according to users’ needs and communicate the right messaging via channels users prefer.
What are the critical utility customer experience challenges?
Inaccuracy in billing
In 2021, 40% of UK residents turning to the charity Citizens Advice were concerned about inaccurate customer utility bills. The main reason was the electricity providers’ incapability to deliver the most basic obligation. Client service errors made some households encounter incorrect demands for pounds, which together with rising prices becomes a shocker.
Limited digital interaction and self-service
The survey of 1000 domestic utility bill payers showed that 61% got used to interacting digitally since the pandemic, 72% would like to have better self-service and seamless access to some consumption information, and 60% prefer to solve issues without calling customer support.
The new energy cap makes customers opt for another supplier
The same survey claims that customers demand more and trust less. 58% require great service in return for increased bills. 63% are more likely to look for better deals with different suppliers. Once a better deal shows up, 51% will opt for it and switch to another service provider. What’s more, 80% say they are disturbed about how high customer utility bills influence household finances.
How can utility service automation save the day?
According to Gartner, an ‘insights carrier’ into the industries, there are three stages of automation a utility company may be going through:
- Stage 1: Implementation of digital automation technologies to decrease costs and optimize current operations
- Stage 2: Leveling up business processes and quality of service by leveraging digital automation and autonomy
- Stage 3: Strive to increase responsiveness to customers and community needs
Each of these stages already suggests tackling current CX challenges, should service providers implement a utility CRM, billing, and customer management software that comes with a needed promise of automation. Such a solution addresses process automation, in the first place.
For businesses that want to be prepared for the future, process automation is frequently a top priority. The digital alignment of the most significant operations has several advantages, including as
- cutting down the processing time by as much as 40%
- achieving high accuracy by eliminating human-made errors
- improving clarity and defining the procedures better
- helping avoid bottlenecks
Check out what executive leaders think particularly about process automation in energy and utility from the MaxBill survey “The state of innovation for energy and utility.”
Therefore, speaking of “electricity providers’ incapability to deliver the most basic obligation”, the automated utility billing and CRM software “nips the problem in the bud”. It helps execute seamless end-to-end management of the digital service while minimizing the number of invalid offers, lost or incomplete orders, and activation failures.
When it’s about incorrect billing particularly, first comes an automated approval process based on pre-configured conditions. Such a process includes running hundreds of end-to-end automated tests for utility processes and hundreds of automated tests for billing scenarios striving to minimize charge-related errors.
Find out more about how the implementation of a better and more agile billing solution removes inaccurate billing from the equation.
Additionally, utility billing services automation can help utilities greenlight how people pay their bills. Thus, customers get options for due dates and offers like payments in installments or flat-rate billing. This results in optimized costs, fewer write-offs, increased revenue, and improved utility customer experience.
Usually, CRM is a part of a broad SaaS solution that includes but is not limited to this perfect duo – CRM and billing. At that, automation is at the heart of all processes.
Thousands of automated activities are taking place behind the scenes to improve the client experience with the organization. When addressing the above-listed utility customer experience concerns, CRM enables service providers to:
- deliver omnichannel customer experience to boost consumer interaction
To illustrate, EY, the world’s largest accounting company, questioned 34,000 energy bill payers in 17 countries. It found that customers do choose a combination of both digital involvement and personal human contacts.
- integrate third-party software to meet specific business needs
As an example, utility companies may incorporate a text messaging service to offer targeted messages when dealing with sensitive issues such as bill disputes and arrears.
The self-service portal is a critical module of utility CRM software to meet the needs of modern customers. It allows a wide range of options for utility users to monitor, control, and manage consumption data, service packages, and expenses on their own, and consequently make smart decisions.
Choosing the right utility billing services with powerful customer management?
Today, MaxBill represents an all-inclusive platform offering a full suite of modules for energy and multi-utility companies. The team behind the solution aims to help automate revenue management, billing, and reconciliation, customize product and service portfolios, advance partner management and client care operations, and drive continuous enhancements to the utility customer experience. Executive leaders will find here not just a CX problem solver but a progress-maker when a company is scaling up.
Willing to upgrade your business processes with automation? Contact our pros, and we’ll see what we can do!
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