Why Good Customer Service Is Important for Utilities


Recently, CallMiner headed to Washington, DC to take part in the premiere utility industry annual event, the EEI/AGA Conference. During the show, our team had the opportunity to meet with key purchasing decision makers and industry professionals and hear insights on the future of utility customer service, multichannel customer engagement, the latest TCPA policy, legal, and regulatory developments, and more.

There were many takeaways from the event but one of the most important focused on the customer experience. With more and more utilities choices becoming available to customers, providing quality customer service is more critical than ever. Here’s a closer look at several of the reasons why:

The Cost of a Negative Customer Experience

According to the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, 78% of customers have failed to make an intended purchase due to a poor customer service experience. Data from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs also shows that news of a bad customer experience reaches twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.

For utilities, negative experiences can quickly drive ratepayers to the competition. It’s easy to see why: Now that customers can switch easily from one utility to another, customer loyalty isn’t always a guarantee.

As discussed during the EEI/AGA Conference, Southern Company improved customer satisfaction by implementing a comprehensive, proactive outage communications system designed to meet customer expectations. Approaches such as these are becoming vital in order to remain competitive in an increasingly deregulated energy and utilities market.

The Impact of Contact Center Agent Performance

A study published on the Harvard Business Review blog reveals several of the reasons why utilities worldwide are making significant investments in the customer experience. Less than half (43%) of utilities customers who have a negative experience are still members after a year, compared to 74% of those who’ve had a positive experience. The conclusion is that the better the experience, the longer a utility will retain its customers.

Due to their position on the front lines, customer service representatives have an immediate impact on any metric associated with customer interactions. In other words, there is a direct correlation between effective performance management and customer retention.

How Speech Analytics Can Help

Repeat calls, long hold times, and unsatisfactory agent interactions are just a few of the ways customers can become frustrated with utilities companies. Through the use of contact analytics, companies can automatically score 100% of calls, which provides them with the types of insights and analysis they can use to improve the customer experience.

CallMiner’s speech analytics software tailored for energy and utilities providers lets companies discover key facts relating to products, services, processes, or policies that drive negative or positive customer experiences. It also identifies the types of calls, groups, or individuals that handle calls resulting in the lowest customer satisfaction ratings, as well as those agents and behaviors that can turn-around negative customer experiences (in addition to other key features and benefits). The end result is improved quality monitoring for utilities and a better experience for the customer overall.

Final Thoughts

In today’s competitive energy and utilities market, companies failing to prioritize their customer experience efforts may suffer from customer churn as well as a negative reputation with customers. For this reason, good customer service for utilities isn’t just important – it’s critical.

CallMiner will be attending the CS Week Conference in Charlotte, NC at the end of April to discuss these issues – and more! We hope to see you there!

Is your utility company taking advantage of speech analytics technologies to provide better experiences for customers? Do you agree with the points made above? I would love to hear your thoughts and perspective in the comments section below.


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