PA Consulting’s utilities expert, Marc Tritschler, discusses how utility companies can develop a customer-centric culture by leveraging data more effectively.
The report analyses how providers of water, electricity, and gas have long lagged behind other industries in delighting customers, owing largely to monopolistic roots, cultures, and processes that did not need to focus on offering a compelling customer experience (CX). However, increasing competitive, regulatory, and stakeholder pressures and rising customer expectations are changing these traditional models, leading utilities to prioritize CX in ways they never have before.
While a customer-centric approach is becoming critical across all industries, utilities find their traditional siloed operating structure to be particularly out of step in a digital age. Changing customer demands and expectations, intensified by a forced migration to digital experiences and remote work because of the Covid-19 pandemic, are making that discrepancy even more apparent.
The types of disconnects, such as various utility departments not sharing customer data effectively, are common throughout the utility ecosystem. Marc says: “If a customer makes an appointment for a field technician to clear out a sewer blockage, they often can’t go to a website later to make a change in the time if they need a different appointment. They have to call the utility provider on the phone again and repeat a lot of information because the agent may not have access to the detailed case and appointment data. By modern standards, that’s not good enough.”
Marc cites one recent example of poor data impairing CX: When a friend moved into a new house and received a £400 water bill for the first month—an obvious error—the utility’s customer service agent could not sort the situation out and instead recommended the customer pay the full bill, which the utility would eventually refund.
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