How utility companies can provide more useful CX

Kayleigh Jenkins, Business Development Director at krow.x

Utility companies are at the coalface of today’s rising economic and geopolitical challenges. Dwindling energy supplies, skyrocketing bills and stagnant wages are creating an environment where meeting customer needs well is more important than ever before. But this sector has traditionally not been a high performer in terms of its customer experience. In fact, a recent Utility Week study ranked utility companies 12th out of 13 sectors in terms of customer service, with record levels of dissatisfaction.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Now, when it’s more pressing and important than ever before, utility companies can transform their customer experience with the right blend of data, technology and strategy.

THE UTILITY CUSTOMER POWER SHIFT

The functional, necessary, ‘on-tap’ service provided by utility companies has meant that they generally haven’t had to invest in emotive brand engagement as much as other sectors have. But that’s changing.

Challenger brands, with in-demand, green energy credentials, are introducing more competition into the market. And the economic crisis means customers will want to shop around for better value and better customer service.

WHAT DO UTILITY CUSTOMERS WANT?

Across every sector, the post-Covid-19 consumer has higher expectations than ever before. Lockdown accelerated their digital lives and their demands in terms of speed, efficiency, personalisation and quality of customer service. But utility companies have historically lagged behind other sectors when it comes to providing digital customer experiences. They’ve tended to rely more on call centres, while others have boosted multi-channel customer engagement via social media, mobile alerts, chatbots, callback technology or other digital CX solutions.

During tough economic times, it’s tempting to pause marketing budgets. But today’s crisis-hit consumers need reliability, reassurance and convenience more than ever, according to a recent Which? study. And they’ll only get that if utility marketers keep their foot on the gas. Brands that kept advertising during the 2008 recession saw a 1.3% increase in market share, because they worked to create even more loyalty and trust. So how should today’s hard-won utility marketing budget be spent to improve customer experience and engagement?

FOUR STEPS TO BETTER UTILITY CX

1. Know your customers

Tap into the human insights behind customer data. And gather as much as possible, from a range of different sources, to build a fuller picture of what target consumers say versus what they actually do. For example, our Customer Decoder uses evidence-based quantitative and qualitative research, Google Analytics, focus groups and more to build a 360-degree picture of a customer. You can then use that data to create a customer journey map – an end-to-end visual representation of their engagement, passion and pain points with the brand. Customer journey maps help to quickly identify CX bottlenecks and how to fix them, as well as opportunities to connect better. They create personalisation opportunities that build consumer trust, and they ensure marketers are more able to meet fast-changing customer needs in a volatile climate.

2. Connect with them emotionally and meaningfully

Use data insights to produce meaningful creative that is intelligently joined up across all consumer-facing channels. That could include building small moments of joy across online and in-person touchpoints: these show customers that you know them, you care about them and you can meet their needs without having to be asked. This ultimately demonstrates that you’re not only a reliable brand but an interesting one too. What better USP could you have? For example, we helped our high street bank client have more meaningful conversations with customers about their online banking experience by using offline customer experience data. We tracked in-branch transactions to be able to trigger personalised follow-up communications, suggesting how the same transaction could be performed efficiently online and asking them more questions about their in-person branch visit.

3. Be purpose-driven

A purpose-driven utility company has a bigger, more emotive story to tell beyond its functional service which is currently soaring in cost. Purpose-driven marketing based on authentic brand values helps build loyalty and trust, especially when it’s at the heart of the company’s internal and external communications, connecting the experiences of its customers, its employees and its investors. At krow.x, we’ve been helping insurance giant Aviva communicate its Aviva Community Fund work, which helps small charities build stronger communities across the UK. Our integrated campaign put Aviva’s values of community resilience and financial inclusion front and centre of its comms by focusing on the real lives being transformed by the Fund. A third of participants now say the campaign has positively affected how they felt about Aviva.

4. Be consistent

And finally, remember that consistency is key across every channel: it builds stronger messaging, which is more likely to be memorable, which will build more engagement and trust over time.

We deliver creative customer experience that engages and delights audiences more meaningfully to move them in the right direction. Contact us today if you want to elevate your customer experience and your business potential, no matter what’s going on in the rest of the world.

CHAT TO US

Contact Kayleigh Jenkins, Business Development Director
kayleigh.jenkins@krowgroup.com

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