Utilities Should Engage With Customers In Channels They Determine Ideal - The MSR Group

All channels need to be accessible, reliable and satisfy the customers’ needs.

There is no baseline determination of what constitutes optimum customer engagement. For example, what may be a best-case-scenario for, say, Prudential may well be a worst one for Under Armour. It’s a pretty safe bet, anyway. Of equal importance, there’s no clear perspective on how customer engagement should even be evaluated.

This is of foremost importance as it relates to utility companies. Recently, The MSR Group took notice when a blogger at FirstFuel wrote, in part, that it’s most important for customer engagement to be measured from the perspective of the utility company, not its customers. That’s hardly semantics. And the difference in opinions, we believe, is pivotal. Simply, utilities continue to look at customer engagement in terms of metrics that matter to the utilities and continue to miss the mark by not asking their customers how they feel about the different methods of engagement that the utilities are attempting.

When we talk about an emotional investment a customer has in any company or brand, you can’t do so without complete customer empathy from that company or brand. There must be accountability, and that accountability is at the sole discretion of the customer—you know, the one who’s always right. Customers reach out to utility companies when they flick a switch and the switch does nothing, when the power’s out their home but not at the one across the street or when the numbers on a bill just aren’t adding up. Virtually any time a customer even considers reaching out to a utility company, there’s a better than average chance the customer is experiencing frustration. The MSR Groups finds out why.

Becoming a customer advocate is key: The MSR Group, for one, engages in ongoing transactional feedback surveys that get the heart of how customers feel after any interaction with an engagement channel. That includes when they contact a call center, use online resources, a mobile app or simply engages with a crew member in the field.

In the author’s blog, it was surmised that because a “mobile app, social media, chat, text and web are all preferred to being helped over the phone by a living, breathing human being” that it’s “most likely explanation is that online interactions are more efficient…for customers.” That, however, is a flawed interpretation. All that really means is customers have had a better experience using those channels, not that they necessarily prefer it.

Further, it’s simply not possible for the so-called preferred channels to supplant the need for a call center, because there will unquestionably be issues for which only a call will work. Therefore, it’s essential that all channels are satisfying, because all will be used, which is the only way to ensure customers’ needs will be met and you can adequately engage customers in a way they want to or simply must engage.

See How the MSR Group’s customer satisfaction measurement program works