Driving excellent service with technology
“Excellent customer experience is no longer a competitive advantage, but rather a minimum requirement to compete.”
In advance of November’s Future of Utilities Summit, we caught up with Simon Blunn, WalkMe’s SVP & GM of EMEA to explore why providing excellent customer experience is paramount for utilities companies and how technology can support them in that crucial transformation journey.
(Laura Cross) Why is it more important than ever for utilities companies to provide high quality service to their customers?
(Simon Blunn) Customer experience is more important than ever in Utilities, due to the unprecedented increases people are seeing in their energy bills. The customer expects a lot from their providers and will not hesitate to move for a cheaper option if the service is not in line with what they are paying. On top of that the importance of the customer experience has been heightened across all industries. This is likely connected to the trend of total experience strategies. Total experience is a business strategy centred around creating a better holistic experience for everyone who engages with an organisation or brand, meaning employees, customers, end-users, etc. Total experience was recently featured in Gartner’s list of strategic technology trends for 2022. The rapid digitisation brought on by the need to find solutions for business continuity in the face of the pandemic likely contributed to this trend. As did the increasing prevalence of Generation Z in the workplace, who grew up in the digital age and simply demand a better digital experience. Regardless of the cause, the fact remains that an excellent customer experience is no longer a competitive advantage, but rather a minimum requirement to compete. Utilities are no exception to these trends. Offering excellent customer service goes hand in hand with a digital user experience as failing to serve customers from the convenience of their screens would surely fall short of great customer service in 2022.
(LC) From the pandemic to the energy crisis, what trends have been the most impactful and how can technology help meet new customer needs?
(SB) The pandemic forced rapid digitalisation. In order for businesses to keep doing business, they had to find new digital solutions and enable as many people as possible to get things done from the safety of their own homes. This rapid digitalisation has created a standard of both customer and employee experience. Even now, as we exit the pandemic, the energy crisis has only further put the emphasis on home working while businesses try to identify areas for additional cost savings by reducing consumption of energy, this trend isn’t going to be reversed anytime soon. New digital technologies are behind the improvements in customer and employee experience. One example is the rise of the digital adoption platform (DAP). DAPs exist as a glass layer across applications and software to increase user adoption and improve the user experience while providing data analytics and the ability to deploy solutions to user confusion or error. DAPs can transform a customer’s experience online. It can transform possible confusion and frustration navigating a new website or application alone into a concierge-like experience with in-the-moment guidance.
(LC) How can automation empower customer care agents to provide excellent service to customers?
(SB) Automation can empower customer care agents to provide the highest level of service to customers. Automation is the superpower behind getting more done faster to help customers. This can be by streamlining workflows across applications to save agents’ time to focus on going above and beyond for customers and helping more of them. Automation can also interact directly with customers to provide a fabulous experience. Chatbots with advanced automation capabilities can not only answer customers’ questions, but also perform actions through automation at the click of a button. This provides instant solutions for customers and also frees up agents’ time to focus on their most important tasks.
(LC) Consumer engagement is a key priority for utilities companies. What tools can help boost this and what can be done with the insight?
(SB) Boosting consumer engagement is a product of increased digital usership. In other words, in order to increase consumer engagement, utilities companies must first ensure digital adoption. DAPs can play a critical role here by providing a more approachable and easy to follow introduction to digital products, like digital utility services. On the front end, consumers get in-the-moment guidance on how to use the online service. On the back end, companies get insights into exactly how their users are interacting with their online services so they can continuously improve the customer experience and stay on the pulse of customer satisfaction. Insights from digital interactions across the organisation can then be used to better inform decisions.
(LC) New technologies mean new ways of working. How can agents be best engaged and supported in the digitalisation journey?
(SB) The best way to support agents along a digitalisation journey is to have a DAP providing them with a customised onboarding experience. DAPs can also be used to introduce employees to new technologies and show them how these different business applications can best be used to get their jobs done. DAPs provide in-the-moment guidance to onboard new hires and long-standing employees alike and there’s no need to schedule training sessions that take people away from their jobs. Customer care agents need support and explanations when and where they need it, which is directly on the screen on the job. This is precisely what a DAP can provide.
(LC) What does the future of digital transformation look like for the utilities industry?
(SB) I believe that the future of digital transformation for the utilities industry will take many forms. As we continue to make the essential shift to green energy and achieve net zero we need to ensure we take the consumers on the journey with us and make it as easy a transition as possible. It will be even more important than ever to optimise processes across business units, automate workflows, improve efficiency, and upgrade customer experiences. Digital transformations will continue to better the utilities industry as long as people actually use the new technologies available to them.