A Digital Customer Journey in Utilities: 6 Use Cases
By Leor Melamedov
There are plenty of ways utility companies can apply automated workflows to streamline and expedite their customer-facing processes. Whether it’s by creating a full end-to-end automated workflow, or harnessing select capabilities to complete specific tasks, utilities companies can achieve a higher ROI. The following are the main use cases we’ve identified.
1. Joining a New Utility Company
When a customer moves properties, they need to set up a new electricity or gas account with their local supplier. The supplier needs to provide competitive terms for purchasing products and abide by strict rules for managing the purchase. In addition, customers tend to have many questions about pricing, feeds, insurance, and installations.
Therefore, the agent in charge of onboarding new customers must provide complete visibility into the process as soon as it’s initiated. A mobile-friendly process guided by a remote live agent can allow the entire signup process to be completed in one shot.
The customer can simply call the supplier, notify them of the gas and electricity meter readings at their new dwelling, and provide any additional details in a secure eForm — sent in a mobile-friendly format.
In addition, terms and conditions can be digitized and sent to the customer for a quick approval. This saves the agent from having to read these scripts out loud, which is both inefficient and a compliance risk since there’s no written record.
2. Changing Address
Some customers may be able to stay with the same utility company even when they move. In this case, the company will need to verify the customer’s identity, as well as their new address. The problem is that when customers move, they don’t always have access to their computer or printer. But they do have access to their mobile phone.
The utility company agent can send a text message to the customer containing a link to a secure session. In this session, they can request two key things: the customer’s ID and proof of residence.
Here’s how the ID verification process works:
Submitting proof of residence can be completed through an easy mobile document collection process:
In this way, customer addresses can be updated securely and efficiently. It also prevents gaps that can trigger mistaken collections processes, causing friction with customers and even escalation.
3. Filling Gaps in Servicing
When customers aren’t getting electricity or gas, the last thing they want is to be bounced through an IVR system or be put on hold. With a digital workflow, customers can simply fill out an eForm request from their mobile phone or utility company website, which gets routed to the relevant professional in real time. The professional can then submit the request to the technicians, or call the customer to provide an update.
4. Enabling a Wide Range of eForms to Be Submitted
eForms are a crucial part of the automated workflow process. With mobile-friendly, dynamic eForms, utility companies can allow customers to quickly provide information from their smartphones. The next-generation of eForms uses conditional logic to hide or reveal fields based on customers’ answers, ensuring forms are relevant and effective. Customers who make mistakes do not need to resubmit the entire form — they can just update it in real time. And all information gathered from eForms syncs with the utility company’s CRM, ensuring customer records are up-to-date.
Here are some of the form types that can be collected as part of a digital, automated workflow:
Proof of bill
First payment acceptance
Customers can also provide their eSignature on any of the forms they’re required to submit. This signature is tamper-proof, legally admissible, and effortless to submit.
5. Enabling Quick Electronic Payments
According to McKinsey, utilities that approach customers via email or text rather than a phone call can improve payments by as much as 12%.
Utilities companies should therefore introduce electronic payments across their customer base to encourage prompt payment. Delinquencies are expected to be reduced as it’s easy and quick for customers to complete the payment process.
A utility company can simply send a text message containing a link to a secure session, where PCI-compliant payment can be carried out.
6. Co-Review of Bills
No utility company wants to deal with customers doubting a bill or service. And no customer wants to deal with an incorrect claim of unpaid bills. With digital co-review, agents and customers can view and mark up documents together in real time, while on a call. This allows ambiguity or misunderstandings to be cleared up quickly and fairly.
A Unified Digital Platform: The Pinnacle of Digitized Interactions
All of the tools mentioned in the previous section — eSignatures, eForms, document collection, ID verification, digital payments — are impactful on their own. But their power to transform customer interactions is multiplied when they fit into a greater digital platform.
A digital frontend links together all relevant digital capabilities, and relies on conditional logic to move customers onto the next step, all in a single mobile session. Such workflows allow admins to update business rules on the fly to trigger entire agent workflows during the signup or servicing call.
Key Benefits of Adopting a Unified Digital Platform
Simplified processes: A single system controls the entire end-to-end process with a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Digital tools in one digital suite: At various stages of the workflow, rules trigger the sending of T&C documents, requests for eSignatures, and digital payments.
More streamlined processes: Easy and intuitive conditional rules can be set to ensure business logic between and within steps.
Optimized: Each customer interaction can be optimized across touchpoints and existing systems.
More visibility: Digital workflows come with dashboards that allow business leaders to gain visibility into the KPIs that matter most..
Higher NPS: Customers are happier due to reduced frustrations, and more likely to stay with the utility company for the long term.
Lower agent churn: Employees are more satisfied with their work since they aren’t burned with confusing, manual processes.
Reduced cost: The company saves money on manpower and resources that go into chasing customers, requesting re-work, and maintaining physical records.
Zero IT involvement: Admins can adjust their business rules according to their needs without requiring IT support or coding.
How A Digital Frontend Platform Works
Automated digital workflows allow utility companies to connect all customer-facing aspects of their onboarding and servicing cycles. Here’s how it works:
Agent sends the customer a text message containing a link to a secure mobile session.
The session automatically populates with all the relevant forms, document requests, ID verification requests, and anything else the customer needs to complete the journey.
The customer completes all the tasks using only their mobile phone — no special apps or software needed.
Automated workflows are effective because they simplify and streamline the customer journey, allowing everything to be completed from a single digital session.
The Bottom Line
Utility companies need not change their backend systems when digitizing. Doing so can be understandingly disruptive to business. By adding a digital layer to customer-facing processes, utility companies can deliver customers the streamlined and efficient experience they expect — all without overhauling their existing systems.
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