• December 16, 2010

Utilities Need to Improve Customer Experiences to Create Loyalty, Survey Finds

A recent Twitter poll conducted by Nuance Communications on how consumers communicate with their utility providers revealed  significant room for improvement in customer service experiences and creating brand preference and loyalty. Only 19 percent of those surveyed reported a high opinion of their providers, while 41 percent said they had a low opinion and another 40 percent said they had no opinion.
Other key findings include:

  • More than 70 percent use the phone to communicate with their utility providers, while 16 percent use email and 7 percent use Web or chat. 
  • While 70 percent are interacting on the phone, only 9 percent are using automated voice systems.
  • More than 75 percent of participants said they contact a utility company when there is a problem with service, such as an outage, while more than 50 percent contact a utility provider when there are problems with their bills.
  • An overwhelming 63 percent of participants said they would like to receive proactive notifications from their utility company.
  • More than half say the preferred vehicle for receiving these proactive notifications—email, SMS, phone call—depends on the situation, whether it is an emergency or a tip. Thirty-six percent said they prefer email, while 7 percent prefer SMS, and just 3 percent want phone calls.
  • “When there is an outage” topped the list at 76 percent for instances in which participants would like to receive proactive notifications, while “to alert me of an outage restoration” clocked in at 55 percent.
  • Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they are interested in managing their accounts through a self-service app on their mobile devices.
  • Respondents reported a number of actions that they would prefer to complete on their mobile devices. Fifty-seven percent want to access their account balances and due dates, and more than 40 percent of respondents want to use mobile self-service for reporting power outages, paying their bills, and determining their usage levels.

“The fact that only 19 percent of customers have a high opinion of their utility providers and an overwhelming 40 percent of respondents said that they have ‘no opinion’ about their utility providers clearly shows that utilities need to do a better job of creating brand preference and loyalty," said Christy Murfitt, senior manager of solutions marketingat Nuance. "The findings also reveal several ways utilities can retool their customer service strategies to drive preference, such as delivering mobile self-service solutions, providing more automated phone services, and proactive notifications. Because no two customers are alike, the key to success with these strategies is to personalize the experience for customers based on their preferred communications channels and the reasons they prefer to be contacted by the utility."

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