2020: Energy CX Sees New Horizons with Self-Service and Visual IVR
Today’s customers have grown to love digital self-service channels. The speed and simplicity of solving straightforward service issues on their own means over two-thirds of customers choose self-service before any other channel.
Their experiences with self-service tools in e-commerce, insurance, hospitality & leisure, and other industries have driven this point home. When customers are offered the chance to complete an interaction on their own, they opt-in more often than not. In 2020, this push for self-service interactions is coming to the energy industry as well.
“The speed and simplicity of solving straightforward service issues on their own means over two-thirds of customers choose self-service before any other channel. ”
The majority of customer service calls are concerned with common questions or tasks with straightforward solutions. These account inquiries, bill payments, form submissions, password changes, and similar requests drain resources better-suited for more complex or empathy-based service calls. Businesses in every industry see immediate results letting their skilled customer service representatives handle more time-intensive, complicated inquiries while automated self-service solutions complete the large volume, common calls faster than a human agent could.
Automated self-service has been an emerging success story across the energy industry. Industry pioneers have seen real benefits from past iterations of self-service solutions. Alabama Power ranked #1 in JD Power’s Utility CX list after they streamlined their website and mobile app to simplify account information so customers can easily see how much power they use and how they can lower their bill. Central Hudson Gas & Electric in New York invested in a mobile customer engagement and self-service platform way back in 2017. They focused on making bill payment easy to track and complete. In the first year of the platform, eBill payments increased by 12% and mobile app downloads increased by 25%.
“It’s hard to plan for a global pandemic like COVID-19, but other less extreme incidents can drive up call volume unexpectedly as well.”
Maximum Impact, Minimum Cost
For years, automated solutions required large overhauls of customer service processes, cumbersome integrations to the CX systems businesses already utilized, and expensive emerging technology. In 2020, the automation landscape has radically shifted. Robotic Process Automation (RPA), digital tools that transform structured inputs into business actions, open API integrations, and digital interfaces like Visual IVR, have combined to make automated self-service quick to implement, easy to maintain, and create virtually zero impact on well-established business processes. RPA and modern automated solutions keep costs low and have made self-service viable for the energy industry.
Customer service has quickly become the primary battleground for businesses in every industry, but especially energy providers. According to J.D. Power studies, delivering excellent customer service as well as reliable power drives customer loyalty and plays a critical role in “gaining satisfaction and building customer trust.” In today’s modern, digital society, automated self-service solutions for common customer service calls are necessary. A vast majority of customers prefer a do-it-yourself method for customer service and expect brands they interact with to deliver the best CX.
Energy industry customers want self-service because they prioritize three aspects of customer service: time, convenience, and value. According to a study by Accenture, they spend an average of 9.2 minutes per year interacting with utilities via digital channels and 11 minutes per year interacting via non-digital channels. Self-service tools deliver the results customers are looking for as fast as possible. Automated solutions like Visual IVR are available 24/7, through whatever channel customers prefer — solutions whenever and wherever customers need them. The ability of self-service to solve problems quickly and easily has earned customer loyalty and respect. Six out of ten energy industry customers say they value the comfort and convenience of automation.
Cost-effective self-service solutions like RPA and Visual IVR will make 2020 the year the energy industry experiences the shift in CX already shaping other industries. E-commerce, insurance, hospitality, and other businesses have already transitioned to fast, convenient, and customer-centric self-service solutions. Now energy providers will deliver the same benefits to their customers with little disruption to their business processes thanks to light, flexible API integrations and excellent modern automation. These self-service solutions will complement live agents and call centers, handling recurring, mundane, repetitive calls and allowing the agents to handle the complex calls where their expertise shines and empathy is required.