The digital revolution is no longer news. Customer expectations have long since moved on from the days of waiting on the phone for a response, only to be passed on to yet another agent who also can’t give an answer. Today’s utility customers expect to access information and complete many transactions online, including from their mobile devices. It is when the query is more complex or more sensitive – for example, payment arrears – that they need to speak to a real person. But when they do, they expect a clear resolution first time.

For online interactions, the customer experience is determined by ease of access, ease of use and quality of information. For voice, it is about empathy and the quality of response. But there are many interactions that start in one channel and are then better served in another. Here, the customer experience is also dependent on seamless cross-over, especially when the interaction involves digital and voice.

The good news for utilities is that getting it right reduces the cost to serve. More importantly, the right level of proactive communication through digital channels also reduces the customer’s need to call in, reducing costs further. For example, ongoing availability of better information on consumption reduces billing enquiries. Early customer alerts, for unusually high usage, cut the level of calls for bill shock and can reduce possible delays in payment. Regular updates on outages, often through social media, limit outage enquiries. Rapid response to negative posts on social media reduces the potential for escalation. An important by-product is the ability to focus agents’ time on the more complex calls. By up-skilling agents into advisors, utilities can support this new focus and provide a better customer experience, especially where greater sensitivity and empathy are essential.

Achieving this is the “holy grail” of digital transformation and it requires a new type of contact centre platform, one that: aligns and integrates voice and digital channels; achieves a single view of the customer; builds on, not replaces, investments in CRM; and scales up or down easily with volumes across each of the channels. By capturing and utilising customer data at all touchpoints, utilities are able to gain deeper insights into their customers’ expectations and preferences, and deliver a better customer experience.

Capgemini is a leader in Digital Utilities Transformation. Now we have our Digital Contact Centre solution to help our utilities clients to race ahead.